I’d like to preface this installment by stating for the record that I’ve always found US based black metal to be sorely lacking in numerous respects.
Atmosphere? Nope. Believability? Nah. Drawing from and paying homage to the proper sources? Not so much. Even the best known bands the States have produced fall well short of the mark our European and South American forebears continue to draw on and level set to: Xasthur will never be half as interesting as Mutiilation; Nunslaughter, while a decent blackened thrash concern in its own right, is no Vlad Tepes, much less a Bathory. There’s no analogue to early Sepultura, early Kreator, or Sarcofago, much less Mayhem when they mattered, Darkthrone, Immortal or Burzum.
It’s just an entirely different mindset and cultural palette informing things over here than in the more culturally refined, historically minded, classical music grounded and artistically infused European acts, and the aggression and primitivity tends to be more of an affectation than the genuine rage and primal scream of the South American crowd (even to this day, with acts like Bestial Holocaust and the Kreator worshipping Witchtrap).
Think about it: what are we drawing from? Hip hop? Country? Motown? God help us, grunge and aggro? The music can’t help but be shit with such a sorry base to draw from, with a culture informed by reality TV and torture porn. No wonder the only real American genre to flourish since the fall of metal at the dawn of the 90’s has been death metal – it’s all about slasher films and violence, without the barest hint of aesthetics or the more affecting contemplative terror spawned by fog and shadow, and the abyssal inner depths of introspection, all of which appear totally alien to the blunted mindset of a polarized post-9-11, post-hip hop, post-reality TV nation.