Director Sam Dunn Picks the Five Most Important Extreme-Metal Bands

After an enormously successful IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign raising nearly $40,000, Grammy-nominated and Juno-winning Banger Films is embarking on a final push to create the “Lost Episode” of the series Metal Evolution: Extreme Metal. The episode will take viewers on an unprecedented journey across Europe and North America to tell the story of metal’s most aggressive and misunderstood subgenre.

“Our first IndieGoGo campaign was a huge success and we were blown-away by the support of the metal community,” says Banger Films co-founder Sam Dunn. “The research, writing, travel and filming is now complete and we’ve captured some amazing interviews and footage. But we need to turn this footage into an episode!” The new campaign kicked off Friday, August 9th. Details of the campaign, including a brand-new trailer featuring exclusive footage from Banger’s Extreme Metal filming trip, can be found here:

Back in October, Dunn was kind enough to pick and write about the bands that he considers to be the most important acts in extreme metal. Below, we’ve reposted the original list for all of you who missed it the first. “Since the entire extreme metal sub-genre is typically overlooked, I’ve decided to list five pivotal bands that have shaped the sound, lyrics and aesthetics of extreme metal from the early ’80s to present-day,” Dunn wrote. “So I humbly present to you my picks for the most important architects of metal’s darkest, most iconoclastic sub-genre…”

Bathory: Bathory’s self-titled debut record marked the true birth of the black metal sub-genre, transforming black metal from the tongue-in-cheek occult posturing of Venom into a sober, artistic pursuit. Lo-fi production values, epic Viking lore, eerie atmospheric passages – Bathory’s enigmatic founding member Quorthon (RIP) almost singlehandedly forged a template that would inspire legions of Scandinavian black metal bands.

Possessed: Ratcheting up metal’s evil quotient with ultra-low guttural vocals, songs about ritual sacrifice and images of giant flaming upside-down crosses and blood-splattered human skulls, Possessed made their 80s Bay Area thrash metal counterparts look like half-assed part-timers. Not to mention that the final track on their seminal debut Seven Churches, “Death Metal,” would coin an entire sub-genre to be.

Carcass: Featuring over-the-top song titles like Genital Grinder, Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites, Crepitating Bowel Erosion – Liverpool’s Carcass introduced a brand of extreme metal was at once absurd and clinically precise, and sent most 80s extreme metalheads to their local medical libraries to find out exactly what the hell “crepitating” meant. Pioneering so-called “grindcore” along with fellow Brits Napalm Death and Bolt Thrower, Carcass’ sound was brutally raw, impossibly fast and indeed grinding.

Death: Death leader Chuck Shuldiner (RIP) was the Bach of extreme metal. Eschewing the primitive for the progressive, Chuck and Co. took the brutality of Bathory, Posssessed, Autopsy etc. and added complexity, virtuosity and lyrical depth, proving that extreme can also be elegant. And with album titles like Spiritual Healing and Human, death metal was now about more than decapitation and limb dismemberment: it was a social commentary.

Enslaved: Who said extreme metal couldn’t be spiritual? Hailing from the fjords of Norway’s rugged westcoast, Bergen’s Enslaved began their career amidst the pack of Norwegian black metal bands that exploded in the early 90s. But by decade’s end they had matured into an eccentric blend of black-meets-prog-meets-folk metal, with lead growler/bassist Grutle Kjellson recounting Norse mythology in long-extinct dialects. Recent albums Ruun and Axioma Ethica Odini demonstrate that extreme metal can be a vehicle for both savage aggression and oral history, suggesting a brave future for metal’s most transgressive sub-genre.

Want to see a special “lost” episode of the Metal Evolution series dedicated to nothing but extreme metal? Check out to see what killer perks you can get for helping make it a reality!


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  • Troll City Bitch

    This is the first sensible thing I’ve ever seen in Revolver.


      Because it’s SAM DUNN

  • Charlie Ramirez

    awesome article, two thumbs up Mr. Dunn.

  • Zac Melvin-McNutt

    Slayer really needs to be on this list, way more important and influential than Enslaved or Carcass.

    • bugak

      slayer has been featured in Sam Dunn’s Metal Evolution on Thrash metal episode

      • Abbey_of_Thelema

        Thrash Metal is good but it´s hardely to be included on an Extreme Metal-list, is it?

    • Abbey_of_Thelema

      Compare Carcass first three albums to anything recorded by Slayer and there´s your answer right there..

      For example, compare Slayers “Reign in Blood” from 1987 to Carcass album “Reek of Putrefaction” recorded the same year and you´ll find out within 1 seconds listening which of the bands are an “EXTREME Metal Band” and which one isn´t even Death Metal but Thrash.. (I think “Reign..” is a GREAT, GREAT album, don´t get me wrong, but it doesn´t fit this list)

      After all, the list is called “Extreme Metal Bands” is it not?

      Otherwise, if we´re comparing Thrash-Metal bands I´m quite sure Metallica has been more influential and more important than Slayer?
      (altough Metallica might rank in as No.1 on the “Extreme”-list by being the band who has nosedived worst of all bands in the History of Metal..)

    • WannaFight?DamnYou!

      Slayer isn’t even extreme music, just thrash metal. Trying to comapre Slayer to Carcass in terms of aggression is as linear as comparing Tango to Death Metal. -.-

    • krinks

      Compared to some Extreme metal I’ve heard, Slayer is elevator music.

  • Michael D.

    Nice choices!

  • Zero

    finaly someone who calls Bathory the inventor of black metal and not venom, venom might named it but Bathory sure as hell utilized it and had the atmosphere and music right, so dark and heavy

  • Mike Fagan

    Good list, but I would have included Slayer, Venom and Dark Angel. (The ultimate Revenge anyone?) Many would argue they are Thrash. But there would be no extreme metal without these 3.

    • Trev

      Ultimate revenge was Venom Slayer Exodus

  • Graxilo

    I heard the best song progressions with these bands

  • Joao Correia

    80% perfect, not bad. Enslaved can’t appear on a list where there’s no Burzum, and I couldn’t be a bigger Enslaved hardcore fanatic. Oh well…

  • Jimmy Sanchez

    Ahh… No Mayhem? :(

  • Eric Greif

    A thousand thanks to Sam Dunn for going down this extreme metal road. We back him in this endeavor 1000%! ERIC (lawyer for Chuck Schuldiner’s Estate & former manager of DEATH)

  • M.A.C.

    Awwh, Man. I would pick At The Gates, one of the three pioneer bands of Melodic Death Metal

    • Steve

      At The Gates, Carcass, and……..who’s the third?

      • LazyBones

        In Flames.

  • Bernardo Silva Catrilef

    NO metallica
    NO SLAYER and other popular bands
    is nice to see band like DEATH and BATHORY

  • Kel

    Only notable omission is Meshuggah.

    • Biff

      Are you freaking kidding ? Meshuggah has inspired nothing but terribly sterile tech death that lacks the SPIRIT of true metal.

      • Kel

        Not sure what ‘true metal’ is, but that they inspire is reason for their inclusion.

        • Steve

          Meshuggah was included in Dunn’s series on the Progressive Metal episode.

  • Сергей


  • Mijail Lopez

    Possessed. PERIOD

  • IndianMetalEnthusiast

    Eh, instead of Enslaved I’d have mentioned the big three of the Teutonic Thrash scene along with Celtic Frost. They pretty much pioneered elements of and what was to become Death Metal and Black Metal. Kreator influenced virtually all Death Metal bands regardless of sub-genre (Melodic Death Metal bands like In Flames and At The Gates cite them as an influence, for instance); and Sodom’s style of playing overall was a giant influence on Black Metal. Celtic Frost – is there anything to say about these guys? The atmospheric production style, the guitar work, the vocals, the themes and imagery – all essentially proto-[Black/Death] Thrash Metal.

    • Abbey_of_Thelema

      Love Kreator but I see Carcass as the band REALLY responsible for “Melodic Death Metal”(as do most “Melodic Death Metal Bands” after them I´d think)

      Kreator where great and still is to this date, but dispite being quite Melodic from “Extreme Agression” and forward they always were a Thrash Metal Band, not Death Metal.. In my opinion Kreator should have been one of “the big four” leaving Anthrax with their maxumum of 4-5good songs out in the cold..

  • Porst

    A lost episode of Metal Evolution? How about a lost SEASON!

  • Robert Millsop

    As much as I would like to agree with the inclusion of Enslaved- as incredible of a band as they are-, I would have replaced Enslaved with Emperor. Enslaved carried on the viking themed black metal that Bathory put forth, but their sound was also largely based on the blueprint Emperor had set in the early days. They were responsible for the rise of symphonic black metal, and also helped set into motion the more progressive elements that would become more prominent in the 2000s with IX Equilibrium and Prometheus. Choosing between Enslaved and Emperor is very difficult, but in terms of sheer importance Emperor should be represented. Emperor also embodied the Norse mythology in spirit in their first two LPs, although not as directly as Enslaved.

    • Dilp

      Enslaved’s first demo appeared in 1991, and both bands started in ’91. Enslaved started as a much heavier black metal band featuring norse themes in the lyrics, yet still heavily relying on a symphonic sound. It’s true that both bands were influential, but Enslaved was first to record their sound, and Emperor wouldn’t release their demo until a year later. Enslaved’s sound was largely based on Grutle Kjellson and Ivar Bjornson’s amazing writing styles, not on Emperor.

      • Abbey_of_Thelema

        Without the Swedish “One-man-band”, Bathory – No Norwegian Black Metal at all..

        Also Mayhem and Burzum (with special mention of Varg Vikernes and including all from Mayhems Swedish singer “Dead”´s suicide and the pictures of his body to Vikernes Church-burnings and finally Vikernes murder of guitar player Euronymous) has to be mentioned as the genre “Norwegian Black Metal” would have never been heard or played outside of Scandinavia without their input and would have ceased to exist from lack of attention. I´m of course meaning their actions and interviews, not their music as Bathory already defined the sound of all other Scandinavian Black Metal bands, including Symphonies years earlier..

        Without the Media frenzy after Vikernes(and later, other copycats) Church-Burnings and Vargs very brutal Murder of Euronymous, “Norwegian Black Metal” would have been as dead as Euronymous the moment Varg Vikernes was imprisoned in 1993 as no-one outside of “Helvete”(“Hell” in English) which was Mayhems/Euronymous record store in Oslo, Norway would ever had heard of them at all without all the Media Varg “Count Grishnack” Vikernes managed to stir up..

        No-one talked about these bands outside friends and relatives until the Churches started to burn(Living only 3hours by car from Oslo I know this as i Lived it)..

        Bathory, however, was well known before the first Norwegian band even got an LP out..

  • That guy

    This guy is a douche.

  • Scooter

    Bolt Thrower.

  • Nk1

    Pretty good list,nice to see Death mentioned as well as Possessed however shouldn’t Celtic Frost have been mentioned as The Godfathers of Blackmetal? I realize that Venom has been attributed to creating Blackmetal however in my opinion i think that many Blackmetal bands were more influenced by Celtic Frost proof of that is Darkthrone they have many songs that have a Celtic Frost vibe to them as well as Satyricon..Just a thought.

    • Dilp

      I’d keep Bathory on there, although if this list were a top ten, they’d definitely be included.

    • Abbey_of_Thelema

      As you mention both Darkthone and Satyricon from Norway: NO Black Metal Band from Norway would exist if not for Bathory. Not a single one of the ones we got today at least. Maybe there would be Black Metal bands from Norway today anyway but more likely inspired by Cradle Of Filth than the first bands of the Genre in that case..

      All respect to Celtic Frost but Bathory was before them and Hammered out all ground rules for the Scandinavian Black Metal-Scene. The early Norwegian Black Metal Bands was(as Bathory) not about Satanism at all but the early Scandinavian Viking-Beliefs(The ASA-Faith) and against the Christian Church only for destroying the old Temples, building Churches over them and forcing Scandinavians to become Christian.

      This was the original reason for burning down Churches but all that got lost when Vikernes got imprisoned and Media called them all Satanist(popular at the time) and printed an article calling him a “Satanic Leader” totally opposed to what Vikernes had said in interviews and when interrogated by the Police about the fires.

      With the Media writing HUGE amounts of articles on this in Scandinavia at the time, remaining Norwegian bands picked up on the Media lies and started calling themself “Satanic” bands and using lyrics suggesting Satanism..
      This only to cash in on the Media frenzy. This is why There still today is actual Death Threats between the other bands and Varg Vikernes(aka.Burzum) who was released in 2009 after serving 17yrs in Prison. The other bands would think twice knowing that Vikernes actually is crazy enough to put action to his words you´d think. But the money is worth the risk I guess..

      Love Extreme Metal myself but not a big fan of the “Norwegian Black Metal”-Scene in 1990 and still not today. Still interested about what actually happened though..

      Check out the Documentary “Until the light takes us” featuring Varg Vikernes both from the late 80´s, inside Prison(as an “Aryan Brotherhood member” for a while) and also after his release and you´ll know the whole story directly from the crazy fucks mouth 😉

  • Trev

    I think Death came before Autopsy so I don’t think Chuck could draw a lot of influence from them

    • Abbey_of_Thelema

      Of course death comes before the autopsy! It would hurt like hell otherwise!

  • Paul

    Enslaved is about the most inspiring band on the planet right now, Great players, great songs, great live and not afraid to push the boundaries of not only metal, but music in general. Ground breaking.

  • tiffany

    this guy should be a teacher in my school someone who know metal

  • Abbey_of_Thelema

    Carcass is worthy of all press they can get! Pioneers of much Metal!
    They also has a new album coming this fall after a 18year hiatus, called “Surgical Steel”

    In my own crazy version of Extreme Metal History I´d actually like to see credit given to the Groundbreaking Industrial-Metal band Ministry as what Al Jourgensen with crew did in the late 80´s truly was Extreme!

  • WannaFight?DamnYou!

    No “Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious” = no NWOSMDM. I mean, this has to be worth something.

  • krinks

    I know I enjoy changing folk’s Pandora settings at work so that Cannibal Corpse or Dying Fetus come on instead of Rhianna, Uhser, or Lady Gaga.

  • anony

    where the fuck is venom

  • cmmcm

    No Napalm Death???