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Is black metal without distortion just surf rock? Yes, and this guitarist proves it

A parody of a Darkthrone record featuring a surfboard
(Image credit: Darkthrone)

Kevin Balke is a YouTuber who specialises in providing guitar tablature and posting cover versions until he finds a “real job”.

Among his videos, he’s curated and performed Metallica’s 10 most iconic riffs, Rammstein covers and the painfully accurate ‘How It Feels Like To Watch Guitar Shredding Tutorials On Youtube’.

One of his latest videos caught our eyes and ears on the hottest day of the year. He’s deconstructed the frosty brutality of black metal, and has transformed a handful of menacing tracks into a friendly collection of summery surf rock riffs. 

How? By simply switching off his distortion and adding a shuffling beat. It's as easy as that.

In this short video, he expertly picks his way through a number of black metal riffs and renames them for a day at the beach. Think Dick Dale performing Misirlou – yes, that song from Pulp Fiction – in an icy Norwegian wood and you’re almost there. 

Wax your board to Emperor’s I am the Wet Wizard (originally titled I am the Black Wizards), then paddle out into the ocean during Mayhem’s Blazing Sun (or Frozen Moon, if you want to be pedantic).

Keep an eye on the perfect breaking wave to the strains of Darkthrone's classic Transilvanian Hunger – pleasingly refashioned as Transilvanian Shores – then shred to Satyricon’s Father South (Mother North smothered with a handful of factor 50, basically) and hit those rolling waves. Really show that barrel who’s the boss, bro.

Gnarly, dude. So pitted. And so on. 

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press.