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Oheao
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Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:08 pm
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 5:24 am 
 

For whatever reason, four seems to be the number people use when they mention a group of the most influential/popular acts. Even sometimes when it seems like the number shouldn't really be four (for example Tankard gets included in the big four of German thrash when I always thought it should just be the big three of Destruction, Sodom and Kreator), but I think that'd make for an interesting experiment because Norwegian black metal has more than four that one could argue should be included, so I'm curious to see how the lists will differ. I went with these four personally:

1. Mayhem - I think this one should be unanimous. Deathcrush was one of the earliest releases in the industry and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas has such a history and mystique behind it that you can't really leave them out. Not to mention the fact that Euronymous was the driving force of the scene.
2. Burzum - His self-titled was one of the earlier releases and both the s/t and Aske were on Euronymous's Deathlike Silence Productions. Not to mention Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Filosofem being extreme influences on the use of ambient music in black metal and atmospheric black metal in general.
3. Darkthrone - The Unholy Trilogy is possibly the most iconic three-album run in black metal history. A Blaze in the Northern Sky was one of the earlier full-titled albums in the scene and Under A Funeral Moon/Transilvanian Hunger took the concept even further.
4. Emperor - They are probably the most influential band to use symphonic black metal and pretty much spawned the symphonic black metal scene with their releases.

Some notable ones I didn't include are Immortal, Gorgoroth, Enslaved, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir and Ulver, but I'm curious to see if you all agree with my list or if you'd swap one (or multiple) of them out with another one!

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Terri23
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 5:45 am 
 

The Big 4 is a media concept that was used to discuss the 4 thrash bands that sold the most records. It has absolutely no use other than pigeon hole those 4 particular thrash bands. The term has been used to exclude other thrash bands, probably to the detriment of their careers, and has been used by the 4 included to further their careers at the expense of other thrash bands. It's a bullshit creation that really shouldn't be extended to other genres. Related discussions, such as the Teutonic 4 (or 3 depending on the conversation) and Peaceville 3 are similar creations, serving the same purpose.
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Oheao
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 5:50 am 
 

Terri23 wrote:
The Big 4 is a media concept that was used to discuss the 4 thrash bands that sold the most records. It has absolutely no use other than pigeon hole those 4 particular thrash bands. The term has been used to exclude other thrash bands, probably to the detriment of their careers, and has been used by the 4 included to further their careers at the expense of other thrash bands. It's a bullshit creation that really shouldn't be extended to other genres. Related discussions, such as the Teutonic 4 (or 3 depending on the conversation) and Peaceville 3 are similar creations, serving the same purpose.


I know it's bullshit, but I thought it'd be interesting to see people argue who would or wouldn't be included in the list.

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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 6:06 am 
 

Terri23 wrote:
The Big 4 is a media concept that was used to discuss the 4 thrash bands that sold the most records. It has absolutely no use other than pigeon hole those 4 particular thrash bands. The term has been used to exclude other thrash bands, probably to the detriment of their careers, and has been used by the 4 included to further their careers at the expense of other thrash bands. It's a bullshit creation that really shouldn't be extended to other genres. Related discussions, such as the Teutonic 4 (or 3 depending on the conversation) and Peaceville 3 are similar creations, serving the same purpose.

This.

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CreepingDeath16
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 6:15 am 
 

Also, the only real discussion to be had would be the 4th place, and that only has three possible alternatives: Emperor, Gorgoroth or Immortal.
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Maggot penetration
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 6:28 am 
 

Dimmu Borgir. Who are the other bestselling ones?

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Oheao
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 6:37 am 
 

CreepingDeath16 wrote:
Also, the only real discussion to be had would be the 4th place, and that only has three possible alternatives: Emperor, Gorgoroth or Immortal.


OK so I'm assuming Mayhem, Darkthrone and Burzum are not in dispute?

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DanielG06
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 6:42 am 
 

Terri23 wrote:
The Big 4 is a media concept that was used to discuss the 4 thrash bands that sold the most records. It has absolutely no use other than pigeon hole those 4 particular thrash bands. The term has been used to exclude other thrash bands, probably to the detriment of their careers, and has been used by the 4 included to further their careers at the expense of other thrash bands. It's a bullshit creation that really shouldn't be extended to other genres. Related discussions, such as the Teutonic 4 (or 3 depending on the conversation) and Peaceville 3 are similar creations, serving the same purpose.


This pretty much sums it up. The Big 4 really were just the first four thrash bands to get signed to major labels, but a lot of people take it way out of proportion and see the big 4 as an official thing that should be attributed to every genre.

To answer your question though, I think the big 4 would be Mayhem, Immortal, Gorgoroth and Darkthrone.
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Lagartija
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 7:26 am 
 

I thought about this just yesterday.
For my money: Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum and Emperor. I think these four single-handedly created and developed the main original bases of the genre, from where all the other variants would grow.
Even more impressively, they achieved this with only one album in the cases of Mayhem and Emperor (three and four respectively for Darkthrone and Burzum) before they all went off in different directions.
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Oheao
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 7:31 am 
 

Maggot penetration wrote:
Dimmu Borgir. Who are the other bestselling ones?


Good point. Unlike the thrash bands with RIAA certifications it's much more difficult to know who the best-selling bands are so that's why I went by influence.

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draconiondevil
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 8:53 am 
 

As the Big 4 really only refers to the most commercially successful bands in the thrash scene, the only way for it to make sense in the Norwegian black metal scene would be to apply the same metric to bands in the scene. Using last.fm listener counts I've come up with the following "Big 4 of Norwegian black metal".

Burzum - 428,600
Mayhem - 364,769
Emperor - 319,049
Satyricon - 318,318

Edit: I Just read the above comments and realized I totally forgot about Dimmu Borgir when I did this. They would be ahead of Burzum.
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Slater922
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 9:32 am 
 

My Big 4 of black metal is pretty much the same as OP, though if I were to include another band, I'd go with either Immortal or Enslaved.
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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 10:08 am 
 

draconiondevil wrote:
As the Big 4 really only refers to the most commercially successful bands in the thrash scene, the only way for it to make sense in the Norwegian black metal scene would be to apply the same metric to bands in the scene. Using last.fm listener counts I've come up with the following "Big 4 of Norwegian black metal".

Burzum - 428,600
Mayhem - 364,769
Emperor - 319,049
Satyricon - 318,318

Edit: I Just read the above comments and realized I totally forgot about Dimmu Borgir when I did this. They would be ahead of Burzum.

Last FM is pretty outdated. Spotify would be more indicative of recent trends.

Dimmu Borgir 401,125
Mayhem 250,905
Satyricon 185,717
Burzum 167,053
Enslaved 161,353
Immortal 158,096
Ulver 150,861
Darkthrone 139,614
Emperor 120,111
Gorgoroth 72,855

If I had to choose 4 based on the actual music, that'd be Mayhem, Emperor, Ulver and Darkthrone.

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Oheao
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 10:26 am 
 

I'm surprised Satyricon are so high on both. Dimmu Borgir being number one isn't surprising though.

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HeavenDuff
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 10:57 am 
 

Oheao wrote:
CreepingDeath16 wrote:
Also, the only real discussion to be had would be the 4th place, and that only has three possible alternatives: Emperor, Gorgoroth or Immortal.


OK so I'm assuming Mayhem, Darkthrone and Burzum are not in dispute?


This. When I read the thread title, I thought of what I would pick as the top 4 most influential and genre defining bands, and the four names that popped to my mind were Darkthrone, Mayhem, Burzum, and then I hesitated for about a split second and chose Emperor as the fourth. I think the first three spots are pretty much indisputable. I picked Emperor as the fourth because of their impact on symphonic black metal. But other options would probably work.

Immortal, played a significant role in popularizing the aesthetics of black metal that we are all familiar with today (lyrical themes, corpsepaints, attire, etc.) but their music was also some of the thrashier, most intense and high energy output in the scene at the time.

Enslaved, also played a significant role in maintaining the connection between viking and black metal and exploring it even further with prog elements being thrown-in. They also contributed significantly to the whole pagan black metal aesthetics and lyricism.

But yeah, it's hard to argue against the inclusion of Darkthrone, Mayhem and Burzum.

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DecemberSoul
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 11:00 am 
 

How strict are media sites like Spotify and lastFM when it comes to genre categorization? Since I have no idea, I go for the assumption "not very" and suppose those numbers mean next to nothing when it comes to Ulver and Satyricon.
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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 11:23 am 
 

DecemberSoul wrote:
How strict are media sites like Spotify and lastFM when it comes to genre categorization? Since I have no idea, I go for the assumption "not very" and suppose those numbers mean next to nothing when it comes to Ulver and Satyricon.

Funny you don't consider Ulver and Satyricon black metal bands when half of Burzum's discography is shitty ambient.


Last edited by Gravetemplar on Sun May 29, 2022 11:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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HeavenDuff
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 11:30 am 
 

Gravetemplar wrote:
DecemberSoul wrote:
How strict are media sites like Spotify and lastFM when it comes to genre categorization? Since I have no idea, I go for the assumption "not very" and suppose those numbers mean next to nothing when it comes to Ulver and Satyricon.

Funny you don't consider Ulver and Satyricon black metal bands when half of Burzum's discography is shitty ambient.


I think what he meant is that the numbers of plays don't mean much for Ulver since 90% of their discography is not black metal. So unless we count the plays of only their black metal records, the numbers are basically worthless.

We should do the same for Dimmu Borgir, by the way, since a good chunk of their discography has basically nothing to do with black metal.

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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 11:32 am 
 

HeavenDuff wrote:
Gravetemplar wrote:
DecemberSoul wrote:
How strict are media sites like Spotify and lastFM when it comes to genre categorization? Since I have no idea, I go for the assumption "not very" and suppose those numbers mean next to nothing when it comes to Ulver and Satyricon.

Funny you don't consider Ulver and Satyricon black metal bands when half of Burzum's discography is shitty ambient.


I think what he meant is that the numbers of plays don't mean much for Ulver since 90% of their discography is not black metal. So unless we count the plays of only their black metal records, the numbers are basically worthless.

We should do the same for Dimmu Borgir, by the way, since a good chunk of their discography has basically nothing to do with black metal.

My point still stands. Half of Burzum's discography isn't black metal either. The same could be said about Enslaved, Dimmu Borgir and Darkthorne, they haven't been black metal for a while. Satyricon never stopped being black metal so his/her post makes even less sense.

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HeavenDuff
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 11:39 am 
 

Gravetemplar wrote:
My point still stands. Half of Burzum's discography isn't black metal either. The same could be said about Enslaved, Dimmu Borgir and Darkthorne, they haven't been black metal for a while. Satyricon never stopped being black metal so his/her post makes even less sense.


I think you might be reading too much into this. This was DecemberSoul's first post in the thread, and he gave two examples of bands who used to be black metal but have an extensive non-black metal discography to highlight the fact that the numbers on Spotify include plays from their countless non-black metal releases. The same does apply to Darkthrone and Enslaved. I didn't deny that, and until DS posts again, we shouldn't assume that he denies that.

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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 11:49 am 
 

HeavenDuff wrote:
Gravetemplar wrote:
My point still stands. Half of Burzum's discography isn't black metal either. The same could be said about Enslaved, Dimmu Borgir and Darkthorne, they haven't been black metal for a while. Satyricon never stopped being black metal so his/her post makes even less sense.


I think you might be reading too much into this. This was DecemberSoul's first post in the thread, and he gave two examples of bands who used to be black metal but have an extensive non-black metal discography to highlight the fact that the numbers on Spotify include plays from their countless non-black metal releases. The same does apply to Darkthrone and Enslaved. I didn't deny that, and until DS posts again, we shouldn't assume that he denies that.

What? No. Satyricon never stopped being black metal.

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HeavenDuff
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 11:57 am 
 

Gravetemplar wrote:
What? No. Satyricon never stopped being black metal.


True. I've not really kept up with their later material, so I just assumed that's what he meant. My bad.

So maybe that's not what DS meant, but I still think it doesn't make sense to look at the numbers on Spotify to determine which Norwegian black metal bands are the more popular. Not only because a good chunk of them have extensive non-bm discographies (Enslaved, Ulver, Burzum, Darkthrone, etc.) but also because these numbers are probably not representative of their popularity in the 90's.

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raumr
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 12:13 pm 
 

I guess a breakdown of listens per album would be the best way to resolve this. I reckon most of Burzum's hits are from people listening to the first four albums, which are black metal, while Ulver might have a more even spread between their albums in their very diverse discography.

My pick for the "big four" would be Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone and Ulver. Ulver only had two metal releases, but one of them is hugely influential on the folky/atmospheric/softer type of black metal that is still popular, and the other one is one of the purest expressions of the genre I know of.

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draconiondevil
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 2:52 pm 
 

Gravetemplar wrote:
draconiondevil wrote:
As the Big 4 really only refers to the most commercially successful bands in the thrash scene, the only way for it to make sense in the Norwegian black metal scene would be to apply the same metric to bands in the scene. Using last.fm listener counts I've come up with the following "Big 4 of Norwegian black metal".

Burzum - 428,600
Mayhem - 364,769
Emperor - 319,049
Satyricon - 318,318

Edit: I Just read the above comments and realized I totally forgot about Dimmu Borgir when I did this. They would be ahead of Burzum.

Last FM is pretty outdated. Spotify would be more indicative of recent trends.

Dimmu Borgir 401,125
Mayhem 250,905
Satyricon 185,717
Burzum 167,053
Enslaved 161,353
Immortal 158,096
Ulver 150,861
Darkthrone 139,614
Emperor 120,111
Gorgoroth 72,855

If I had to choose 4 based on the actual music, that'd be Mayhem, Emperor, Ulver and Darkthrone.


I agree with using Spotify instead of Last.fm, but the list you came up with is almost identical to mine but replaces Emperor with Satyricon.
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firelord_
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 2:52 pm 
 

Was the "big four" of thrash even a thing before the tours? Never really thought about it that way, I always just assumed it started with the tour concept. That said, this would be my big four of well-toured Norwegian bands:

Mayhem
Immortal
Gorgoroth
Dimmu Borgir
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klaar
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 3:19 pm 
 

Immortal
Darkthrone
Emperor
Mayhem

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ZenoMarx
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 3:35 pm 
 

My criteria would be which were most often recommended. I was hesitant to get into black metal at the time, but tape traders consistently recommended these. Of course, Mayhem was also there, but these were always on the list. I don't think I could trim one from these five, as they were all part of my first record orders.

Darkthrone
Immortal
Enslaved
Emperor
Burzum

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controlledbleeding
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 5:42 pm 
 

Emperor, Mayhem, Darkthrone and Burzum.

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PeteGas
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 11:02 pm 
 

Enslaved is one of my 10-15 favorite bands of all time and Immortal rules too but looking at significance and influence I think the only correct list is Emperor Mayhem Darkthrone Burzum. The first two bands I mentioned are close behind though.

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Nocturnal_Evil
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 11:11 pm 
 

Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Emperor

Honorary mentions: Enslaved, Immortal, Gorgoroth

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Thexhumed
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2022 1:16 am 
 

draconiondevil wrote:
As the Big 4 really only refers to the most commercially successful bands in the thrash scene, the only way for it to make sense in the Norwegian black metal scene would be to apply the same metric to bands in the scene. Using last.fm listener counts I've come up with the following "Big 4 of Norwegian black metal".

Burzum - 428,600



I wonder if he gets to live off his musical earnings (royalties, album sales, etc.)
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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2022 4:49 am 
 

Thexhumed wrote:
draconiondevil wrote:
As the Big 4 really only refers to the most commercially successful bands in the thrash scene, the only way for it to make sense in the Norwegian black metal scene would be to apply the same metric to bands in the scene. Using last.fm listener counts I've come up with the following "Big 4 of Norwegian black metal".

Burzum - 428,600



I wonder if he gets to live off his musical earnings (royalties, album sales, etc.)

Wasn't he living off his French wife and/or French welfare? That's the last I've heard. Also rumors he can't go back to Norway because he still owns money to the state.

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Maggot penetration
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2022 5:01 am 
 

Varg doesn't claim benefits, he lives off his art (music, games, books), his wife might get some state benefits as they have 7? 8? kids, last I heard from Mrs Parker down at the farmers' market

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Lee Harrison
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2022 6:35 am 
 

A different approach

Enslaved
Taake
Djevel
Emperor

Just to make something different
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Gunslinger21
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2022 8:26 am 
 

I would say Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone and Emperor. The early records especially are just timeless. Darkthrone have stayed really committed to their music and had a pretty big career since the early days. I need to revisit some of those classics again.

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AxeCapitol
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2022 2:59 pm 
 

Mayhem and Emperor are solid one and two for me.

Burzum i discount due to personal ideology and don’t really listen to him (I used
To however).

Satyricon is a possible third, with fourth place interchangeable between Enslaved and Ulver.

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Judas Maiden
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2022 3:20 pm 
 

I'd go with this:

Mayhem
Darkthrone
Emperor
Immortal

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cultofkraken
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2022 3:02 pm 
 

Burzum
Mayhem
Darkthrone
Emperor

I don’t think a big four is a Norwegian black metal thing however and Immortal and Enslaved deserve mention. I would also say Hades should be mentioned in the same breath but they didn’t have the same kind of output, still anyone who hasn’t given those first two albums a shake really ought to.
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Twisted_Psychology
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2022 3:12 pm 
 

Any list without Immortal feels wrong.
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TheLoneForest
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2022 3:40 pm 
 

As everyone's been saying, Darkthrone, Burzum and Mayhem are mandatory. It's really the third one that is up for debate.
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