Black metal is an extreme heavy metal subgenre. It is typically characterized by the use of heavily-distorted guitars, high-pitched shrieking vocals, fast-paced rhythms and melodies, and unconventional song structures.
The first bands to pioneer the style were mostly thrash metal bands that formed the prototype for black metal; they are referred to collectively as the First Wave, and consist of a few bands, such as Venom and Bathory. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a Second Wave emerged in Norway, including prominent bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone. Although there is no well-defined Third Wave, modern black metal bands have incorporated new musical and lyrical trends into their music.
Black metal has been met with considerable hostility from mainstream culture, mainly because of the misanthropic and anti-Judeo-Christian attitude of many bands. This iconoclastic ideology is typical of black metal bands. Additionally, a few black metal bands have been known to have associations with church burnings, murder, and National Socialism. Black metal is generally seen as an underground form of music, in part because it does not appeal to mainstream tastes and because its musicians often choose to remain obscure