Dark Funeral - The Secrets of the Black Arts (1996)
Sweden's Dark Funeral is one of the most popular Black Metal bands in the world. Whereas many bands in the Black Metal milieu cling to their underground status as though obscurity were some sort of guarantor of musical aptitude, Dark Funeral have taken the opposite route, hesitating not the least bit about using the internet to promote themselves--they were among the first high-profile Black Metal bands to establish not only a MySpace profile, but a YouTube account, as well. Not that the band's popularity is disproportionate to the quality of their music, mind you.
Yet if all one had to go on was the band's debut album, one wouldn't think much of Dark Funeral. Despite having some of the best cover art around, The Secrets of the Black Arts is, from beginning to end, a textbook example of what Black Metal astutes call norsecore--endless blastbeats, forgettable riffs and lyrics that are incomprehensible (save, that is, for the obligatory screech of "Satan!" which occurs far more often than is probably necessary.) Though the band has thankfully gone on to produce far more interesting material in recent years, The Secrets of the Black Arts stands as the bands less-than intriguing first offering.