Black on Black: 13 Times Black Metal Bands Covered Their Peers
Sometimes you just want to pay homage to the greats that came before you. Such is the case for the following baker’s dozen of black metal bands that chose to breathe new death into memorable songs by some of the genre’s heroes. And before we get to our list, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the six-track cover demo Black Legions Metal (1995) by the revered Vlad Tepes or Skuggeheim’s truly excellent — yet rare — rendition of Darkthrone’s “En vind av sorg.”
As you follow the selections below, take note that these aren’t clone bands simply copying the works of giants, but rather established greats themselves.
Beastcraft — “Nekromisantrop” (Urgehal)
Beastcraft was the project of Vulture Lord’s Sorath Northgrove and the late Alastor Nefas, a.k.a. Trondr Nefas, of Urgehal, Vulture Lord, Angst Skvadron, and numerous other projects. Sorath has not only made guest contributions to a couple of Urgehal albums, but he’s currently participating in their live reunion, “Dødsmarsj for Nefas.”
Urgehal’s version of “Nekromisantrop” appeared on their split with Beastcraft, Satanisk Norsk Black Metal (2007), and the compilation The Eternal Eclipse — 15 Years of Satanic Black Metal (2007). Sorath’s version of this song originally appeared on Beastcraft’s live tribute album, Unpure Invocation of Alastor Nefas (2013).
Sarkom — “Goatcraft Torment” (Urgehal)
“Goatcraft Torment” is the title track on Urgehal’s 2006 album. Sarkom’s wild rendition of this Satanic delight is the second song on a two-song EP titled Seen Through the Eyes of a Paedophile Priest (2016). Sarkom is an extremely “fun” group with a ton of energy and charisma thanks in part to their frontman and co-founder, Erik Unsgaard.
Whoredom Rife — “Maanens Natt” (Manes)
Both hailing from Trondheim, Whoredom Rife and Manes are leagues above most of their contemporaries, though the latter has gone on to become a very different genre-fusing act. The entrancing “Maanens natt” is the title track on Manes’ 1993 debut demo, but Whoredom Rife included their stellar cover of this classic on the 202 EP Ride the Final Tide.
Enevelde — “Ærie Descent / Funeral Marches to the Grave” (Thorns)
“Ærie Descent” and “Funeral Marches to the Grave” first appeared as the first and second tracks on Thorns’ historic Trøndertun (1992) demo. The influence of Thorns’ Snorre Ruch cannot be overstated, so it’s great that Enevelde honored this godhead on the EP Gravgang (2021).
Enevelde is the fantastic one-man band of Brage Kråbøl of Misotheist and the family project Kråbøl. Like Snorre, Brage is yet another proud product of Trondheim. We must mention that on the split Thorns vs. Emperor (1999), Emperor also covered “Ærie Descent” and Thorns took on Emperor’s “Cosmic Keys.”
K.F.R — “Through the Funeral Maelstrom of Evil” (Mütiilation)
K.F.R is the radically inventive one-man band of the French-born Maxime Taccardi, who currently resides in New York. The cover of “Through the Funeral Maelstrom of Evil” actually stars its creator, ex-Mütiilation’s brilliant Meyhna’ch, on the arpeggios.
As one of the most original covers in this list, K.F.R’s version not only redefines darkness, but horror as well thanks to its savage beauty, pure insanity, ethereal charm, and icy majesty. Taccardi impales you with his high-pitched, inhuman screams, while his low growls edge on the abyssal. If you survive this sonic assault, you absolutely must experience Taccardi’s rendition of Bathory’s “Satan My Master” from the EP Scriptures of Death (2017).
Shining — “Vargtimmen” (Bethlehem)
Shining’s cover of “Vargtimmen” appears on a 2005 reissue of their debut album, Within Dark Chambers (2000) which features the band’s mastermind Niklas Kvarforth on vocals, along with Bethlehem’s first frontman Andreas Classen.
In my immodest opinion, Shining has the best covers of all. This year on International Women’s Day, TSI unleashed the expanded reissue of Shining’s cover EP Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt (2012) on Bandcamp. As far as live covers are concerned, we love the occasions when Niklas took on Darkthrone’s “In the Shadow of the Horns” with Sarkom. Sometimes, Svarttjern’s HansFyrste also joined them.
Nattefrost — “Black Metal Suicide (Claws of Perdition)” (Shining)
Nattefrost reinterpreted Shining’s “Claws of Perdition” from IV — The Eerie Cold (2005) for Terrorist (Nekronaut Pt. I) (2005), which only came out three months after the original version.
And while Nattefrost’s album was recorded after IV, their version of “Black Metal Suicide (Claws of Perdition)” sounds nothing like the original track. Nattefrost’s composition is a fraction of the length and does not include the audio clip from American Psycho. It does, however, feature some additional lines by Nattefrost, who apparently had a mouthful of “blood ejaculation.”
Dissection — “Elisabeth Bathori” (Tormentor)
Dissection’s cover of Tormentor’s “Elisabeth Bathory” is a pure classic that appears on many of their releases. To clarify, other than on Promo ’93, Dissection has always spelled “Bathory” with an “i.” During live performances, Dissection never failed to do bloody justice to this song. Tormentor first recorded “Elisabeth Bathory” for their 1989 demo Anno Domini.
RUÏM — “Fall of Seraphs” (Mayhem)
On RUÏM’s debut, Black Royal Spiritism – I – O Sino da Igreja (2023), ex-Absu’s Proscriptor McGovern provided guest vocals for “Fall of Seraphs.” RUÏM’s mastermind, ex-Mayhem’s ingenious Blasphemer, originally composed this song for Mayhem’s iconic Wolf’s Lair Abyss (1997), for which the brilliant Maniac provided vocals.
We would love to hear Blasphemer sing “Fall of Seraphs” himself one day, perhaps in concert. Especially since Blasphemer slayed us with his vocal excellence on the rest of Black Royal Spiritism. We must emphasize that this “cover” is Blasphemer’s successful attempt to reclaim his past and close the circle he began almost 30 years ago when he joined Mayhem.
Tsjuder — “The Gate of Nanna” (Beherit)
So many bands have paid homage to the pioneering Beherit, including Bergen’s amazing Deathcult. However, Tsjuder’s “The Gate of Nanna” is a live bonus track on certain reissues of Desert Northern Hell (2004) and it’s immense. The original Beherit composition is a highlight of Drawing Down the Moon (1993), which Nag told us has been a big source of inspiration for him.
This year, as an extra vinyl and CD for Helvegr (2023) box sets, Tsjuder unleashed the five-song Tsjuder Tribute to Bathory — Scandinavian Black Metal Attack, which features ex-Bathory’s Frederick Melander with whom the outfit has taken the stage in the past. Prior to that, Bathory material had already turned up on Tsjuder’s albums as a bonus song, a live recording, and a regular track.
Nargaroth — “Píseň pro Satana” (Root)
Nargaroth’s reinterpretation of Root’s “Píseň pro Satana” hails from Black Metal ist Krieg (A Dedication Monument) (2001). This eleven-song classic contains three other covers. Fortunately, Nargaroth has even more great covers that can be found elsewhere. For example, we especially love Nargaroth’s live rendition of Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon,” which appears on Black Metal manda hijos de puta (2012).
Nocturnal Depression — “Seven Tears Are Flowing into the River” (Nargaroth)
Nocturnal Depression has taken on Nargaroth’s “Manchmal wenn sie schläft” and “Seven Tears Are Flowing into the River.” The especially nostalgic latter pick serves as a bonus track on an extra disc that came with one version of the vinyl EP L’isolement (2013), which also boasts a lethal Forgotten Tomb cover, which we highly recommend as well.
Xasthur — “Maanens Natt” (Manes)
Like Whoredom Rife, Xasthur also recorded a superb cover of “Maanens Natt.” Xasthur has paid his respects to other greats: Ildjarn, Wigrid, Katatonia, Forgotten Woods, Judas Iscariot, Mütiilation, and so forth. Xasthur actually contributed vocals to “An Aura Inside the Walls” — the second part of an epic track by Manes dubbed “Solve Et Coagula,” which stars Niklas Kvarforth on the first half.