The People of the Appalachians (A mountain range stretching from Southern New York to Alabama) have been subject to some pretty nasty stereotypes for hundreds of years. The terms “redneck”, “hillbilly”, and “hick” were all coined to cast the people living in the area in a negative light.

A good example of the acceptable prejudices levied against the people of the area would be the 1972 film “Deliverance” (set and filmed in Appalachian Georgia), which portrays Appalachians as backwards, uneducated, inbred, and dangerous.

While these things aren’t true, the movie does display the poverty of the region rather accurately. Many families in the area live on less than $5,000 per year before taxes (which sets their food budgets slightly lower than $1 per day). Another term from the area is “dirt poor” – a lot of people don’t realize the term literally means you’re not rich enough to own a floor. One of my neighbors growing up was raising children in an old trailer with no floor, no running water, and no electricity. The county of my birth, Delaware, is the poorest in the state of New York, and has an economy that (last I checked) was 10 years behind the rest of the country.

This sort of absolute poverty can certainly make for an interesting culture. One of the most distinctive variants of American folk music comes from the area. Combine a strong folk/music and culture with nature, isolation, and mountains – and you’ve got the perfect formula for black metal.

While the region is too large (and difficult to travel) for there to be a scene with a distinctive sound – the Appalachians are home to one of the best kept secrets in USBM. Possibly, due to bands like Panopticon gaining popularity, not quite as well kept as it used to be – but still rather obscure even to the seasoned metalhead.

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Panopticon

Label: Bindrune Recordings
Years Active: 2007 – Present
State of Origin: Kentucky (early), Minnesota (later)
Official Site: https://thetruepanopticon.bandcamp.com/

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2018’s “The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness (I and II)” is a delight. Panopticon reminds me of an Eastern-American version of Saor, the incorperation of American folk music into the black metal style is seamless and tastefully done. Panopticon has managed to take Black Metal’s fixation on nature and give it a very Appalachian slant.

After an hour of fantastic blues-oriented atmospheric black metal, you’re treated with another hour of melancholy infused American folk music.

Certainly a contender for my album of the year.

>———–<

Recommended Listening:

En hvit ravns død

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Slaves BC

Label: The Fear and the Void Recordings
Years Active: 2010 – Present
State of Origin: Pennsylvania
Official Site: https://slavesbc.bandcamp.com/

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Another Appalchian BM band with a 2018 release – these guys weave elements of doom and death metal into a dischordant web of excellence.

“Lo, I am Burning” can be a difficult album to listen to all the way through at times, but it’s ultimately rewarding. I guess you could say it’s a grower more than it is a shower.

The album sounds like it was written as an emotional purge for band members who desperately needed it.

>———–<

Recommended Listening:

Lo

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Twilight Fauna

Label: Unsigned/Independent
Years Active: 2011 – Present
State of Origin: Tennessee
Official Site: https://twilightfauna.bandcamp.com/

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Another Appalachian Black Metal project that focuses on fusing American folk music with Atmospheric Black Metal, Kentucky’s Twilight Fauna is a bit more raw. There’s a distinct focus on the stories/history of the region I find refreshing.

Twilight Fauna is not easy listening. It’s thought provoking, challenging, and possesses the power to transport the listener to a different place and time.

>———–<

Recommended Listening

The Last Ember

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Falls of Rauros

Label: Bindrune Recordings
Years Active: 2005 – Present
State of Origin: Maine
Official Site: https://fallsofrauros.bandcamp.com/

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There’s a wonderful use of atmosphere and a good positive feeling to it – but it’s still unquestionably Black Metal. They juxtapose elements of darkness and light – it’s black metal, but it’s something else as well.

>———–<

Recommended Listening

Falls of Rauros – Silence (Lyric Video Fanmade)

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Nechochwen

Label: Nordvis Produktion
Years Active: 2005 – Present
State of Origin: West Virginia
Official Site: https://nechochwen.bandcamp.com/

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When you’re talking about Appalachian Folk Music, there’s a very heavy influence from the Native Americans who lived side by side with the original settlers of the area.

West Virginia’s Nechochwen include traditional Native American melodies and themes into an otherwise intense black metal assault. There’s an element of prog in there (real prog), and the unexpected transitions from melody to dissonance are expertly executed.

>———–<

Recommended Listening:

The Serpent Tradition

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Appalachian Winter

Label: Nine Gates Records
Years Active: 2008 – Present
State of Origin: Pennsylvania
Official Site: https://appalachianwinter.bandcamp.com/

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Besides the occasional dulcimer or banjo on albums – AW doesn’t really incorporate a lot of folk music into their style. Instead, it’s a synth heavy symphonic Black Metal onslaught with cultural/folk themes in the lyrics. A bit cheesy at times, it almost draws from power metal in terms of the “epic quality” of the symphonic end of things.

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Recommended Listening:

Appalachian Winter – Deep Within the Mountain Forest

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Order of Leviathan

Label: Unsigned/Independent
Years Active: 2012 – Present
State of Origin: Kentucky
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/OrderOfLeviathan

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A very polished, very heavy sort of black metal – OoL sound like a fucking Scandinavian band to me. Very, very good Melodic Black Metal – it should sate the musical thirst of the trvest of the trve.

>———–<

Recommended Listening:

Order Of Leviathan – An Endless Dusk (2013)

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Merkaba (Kentucky)

Label: Unsigned/Independent
Years Active: 2010 – Present
State of Origin: Kentucky
Official Site: https://merkaba.bandcamp.com/

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An atmospheric/ambient black metal project from Kentucky – the best way I can describe these guys is this: Imagine if Bell Witch took shrooms, and then decided to play Black Metal instead of Funeral Doom. It’s very stripped down, pretty raw, and very good.

>———–<

Recommended Listening:

Merkaba – Eyes Lose Focus

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So, there’s a preview of the black metal musicians who are embracing their Appalachian heritage and dispelling some of the stereotypes about people from the area.

And kicking out some pretty killer American Black Metal. Fuck yeah.

– Grulog

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