I’m not a big fan of black metal, but there are exceptions. I don’t like much of the traditional black metal bands like Mayhem, Darkthrone (except their death metal-ish stuff), Bathory and Burzum. Instead my taste tends to go for accessible, doomy or avant-garde styles. This is my list of black metal for people who don’t like black metal. I’m trying to avoid the blackgaze genre as much as possible since it has it’s own article: Blackgaze bands.
Borknagar – Empiricism (2001)
Pretty epic avant garde black metal with a unique touch, and a mix of extreme and melodic vocals.
Darkthrone – Soulside Journey (1991)
I don’t think it’s all that impressive by death metal standards, but it still provides a very different side of the band.
Deathspell Omega – Paracletus (2010)
Deathspell Omega feels like Immolation of black metal to me: the intense layering and weird songwriting builds up a suffocating atmosphere.
Dissection – The Somberlain (1993)
Strongly tied to what was going on in the early melodic death metal scene, which helps make it an album with a wider scope than most black metal at the time.
Emperor – Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (1997)
The best melodic black metal album for me, since it’s equally epic, catchy and musically proficient.
Forgotten Tomb – Songs to Leave (2002)
I’m not a big fan of the suicidal black metal genre at all for several reasons, but “Songs to Leave” is an album with ice cold atmosphere and great guitar melodies to match. The rest of the Forgotten Tomb discography is solid as well.
Goatwhore – A Haunting Curse (2006)
A crossover act that’s as much of a thrash metal and death metal band as a black metal band. Goatwhore doesn’t have much depth or atmosphere going, but the songs are fun and catchy as hell – especially “Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult” on this album.
Marduk – World Funeral (2003)
A very blastbeat-ridden album, as most Marduk material. “World Funeral” has some catchy songwriting and solid riffage with quite a few nods to death metal. I really enjoy the merciless brutality of it from time to time.
Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä (2016)
Mixing black metal with experimental psychadelic rock, and jamming out massive songs? Why not? One of the most out there albums of the past few years.
Summoning – Stronghold (1999)
Summoning’s take on ambient black metal is pretty unique (even though Caladan Brood does it almost as well), and “Stronghold” is by far their strongest output for me. Highly epic and enjoyable.