Black metal is an extreme heavy metal subgenre. It is typically characterized by the use of heavily-distorted guitars, high-pitched shrieking vocals, fast-paced rhythms and melodies, and unconventional song structures.
The first bands to pioneer the style were mostly thrash metal bands that formed the prototype for black metal; they are referred to collectively as the First Wave, and consist of a few bands, such as Venom and Bathory. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a Second Wave emerged in Norway, including prominent bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone. Although there is no well-defined Third Wave, modern black metal bands have incorporated new musical and lyrical trends into their music.