This is certainly not the first black metal list I've made, but this is the first that I have decided to use a different format. Rather than listing all my favorite black metal albums in order of preference, I'm listing these albums in groups, which are split according to subjective preference and how essential they are to the genre. Think of this as an overview of black metal, rather than a favorites list. If time allows, I'll add some mini-reviews and album covers in the future.
Comments and recommendations would be appreciated! I'm posting this not only as a guide for other interested listeners but also so that others can help me out by providing recommendations. Thanks in advance.
Group/level 1- These are the essentials, albums that I consider to represent the pinnacle of black metal- both in terms of sound/aesthetic appeal and artistic merit.
Group/level 2- Near-essentials; albums that are either important milestones in black metal- but are not quite as special as the…