(TheBRHM.com) Black musicians can be found in any genre with rock and metal being no different. As we know, Black rockers were there since the infancy of rock music and even during some of the subgenres that would eventually see a decline.
However, there are some genres where you see little to no Black musicians. Let’s look at five of my favorite genres where a Black perspective would add something new to themes, lyrical content, and even the sound itself.
This is an umbrella term as occult rock is mainly floated by doom metal, heavy metal, and the new wave of psychedelic rock. A lot of it is based heavily on lyrical themes but some genres such as the mentioned doom and psychedelic rock define this wave of rock music.
The thing is that there are Black musicians and fans who rock with these themes and imagery of demons, magic, horror, dreams, and rituals. It all makes for interesting music.
Just the history of the diaspora lends itself to each of those topics and others whether it is the awful history of colonization and holding on to our traditions, folklore, and practices or just creating conceptual stories out of that.
The wave and associated genres have a few Black artists both known and undiscovered but I believe waves could be made easily and breathe new life into it.
More Black musicians—especially singers—in doom metal? Yes please.
Thrash Metal/Speed Metal
There have been Black musicians in these two genres dating back to the 80s with Hirax lead singer Katon W. De Pena and bands Sound Barrier and Black Death as strong examples.
It could be the appeal of the genres as you can find Black musicians in slightly greater number in offshoot genres such as death metal and black metal especially outside of the U.S.
Given how Black fans rocked with nu-metal and its themes of usual suspects of violence, anger, and politics you’d think thrash would be a smooth jump. There’s just so many bands in the genre and finding what clicks with you can be an issue.
And remember, as with any genre of music or literature, musicians all started out as fans. When the fans aren’t there you won’t see a steady flow of newcomers to that medium.
Just look at Latin America and South America’s scenes in these genres or Japan when it comes to speed metal, neoclassical metal, and power metal.
Speaking of the latter…
I absolutely love power metal! Depending on the region, power metal is speed metal with a strong focus on clean, strong vocals with fantasy and sci-fi being the base of lyrics.
The U.S and Canadian strain of power metal is more steeped in traditional heavy metal with similar themes.
Black musicians who are nerds and geeks exist, obviously. Those musicians would be the perfect fit for the genre—given their ability.
There’s something about the genre that might not be appealing. It could be that there weren’t a lot of power metal acts that made that mainstream jump to catch folks attention.
A lot of fantasy and sci-fi is written from a Eurocentric focus and this translates to power metal.
Even power metal on history, folklore, and mythology focuses heavily on the European strain.
It’s digestible for me personally but I can see how the appeal isn’t there for many.
In literature, we’ve just seen Black fantasy and sci-fi start to get some shine in the last decade with writers who have been around for twenty or thirty years becoming appreciated.
Those writers have written the two genres from a Black perspective with characters resembling themselves and others in the diaspora.
Maybe we could see that in power metal…eventually. I’d be all for power metal that pulls from West African or Caribbean folklore and history.
Being able to relate is important.
Oof. Metal For Brains co-host Corey once tweeted about wanting to hear black metal from Black perspective.
The closest we’ve come are the bands headed up by Jamaican black metal veteran Lord Ifrit.
While most black metal bands tend not to flirt with or push racist or nationalist elements in the music, there is a problem that can repel potential Black fans.
The roots of black metal might also be a problem as at the core the genre is based around aggressive anti-religion and has lyrical themes glorifying Satan, Hell, evil, and darkness.
Finally, the sound of a lot of black metal really requires a level of curiosity and adaptability.
Jumping in from thrash metal, speed metal, or even death metal might make it easier to entertain.
Black metal is pretty much the least commercial or mainstream-friendly genre of metal although there are bands that enjoyed mainstream success.
That isn’t to say there are no Black musicians in black metal but I couldn’t even use “a couple” as a vague measurement of how many are in the genre.
Metal in Black
What specific genres would you love to see more Black musicians in? Which ones would you love to see more Black fans enjoy?
“All of ‘em” would be my answer hands down but how about you? Also, if you’re a Black musician in a rock or metal band let us know!
We’re always up for checking out your music and we want to boost these acts to long-time and potential fans if possible.
Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.