Your top 10 Black Metal bands

I just joined recently but I don't think that it's possible to take your opinion seriously if you honestly believe that Bathory isn't one of the most important black metal bands. Actually, that makes it really easy to do the opposite.

I'm not sure who my top 10 are in order but here are 10 bands that I think are really excellent:

Master's Hammer
the s/t is (awesome) glorified venom worship but THE RETURN is a huge leap forward and it's ridiculous to dismiss it in those terms. i don't necessarily disagree that BM would still have existed without bathory, but i'm certain it would've developed quite differently given how many of the biggest names of the '90s absolutely worshipped and endlessly borrowed from quorthon.

Examples from The Return? A lot of the riffing isn't much different from the S/T, just a little bit faster but still an emphasis on somewhat punky riffs over anything resembling the tremolo-picking emphasis of the second wave.
This was very difficult. Honorable mentions to Inquisition, Mgla and Negura Bunget.

1. Burzum
2. Beherit
3. Bathory
4. Emperor
5. Mayhem
6. Blut Aus Nord
7. Darkspace
8. Deathspell Omega
9. Drudkh
10. Summoning
Examples from The Return? A lot of the riffing isn't much different from the S/T, just a little bit faster but still an emphasis on somewhat punky riffs over anything resembling the tremolo-picking emphasis of the second wave.

i'm not saying he suddenly transcended the thrash influences or something, and nor did mayhem or sarcofago, but there's a lot more ambience on that record than anything else in 1985 (i'll grant you that IN THE SIGN OF EVIL rivals it, but i consider that EP to be insanely ahead of its time and probably better than any bathory album). but even if you deny the originality of THE RETURN, he was always right there on the curve all the way into the '90s... nobody was making songs like 'a fine day to die' or 'woman of dark desires' or 'call from the grave' or etcetc when he did, and HAMMERHEART was very out of the blue. more to the point, varg and fenriz and many others have always acknowledged their debt to bathory, and frequently ripped them off. UNDER A FUNERAL MOON in particular, while one of black metal's undisputed masterpieces, is still to some extent a bathory tribute album.

but i acknowledge that what originally got your goat was me suggesting black metal couldn't exist without bathory, and i concede that point. i'm sure it would've brought itself into fruition without him, albeit probably evolving quite differently in many ways methinks.

and as a sidenote, i couldn't give two shits about the level of innovation when so many of the songs are that good. i'm happy to just call bathory awesome heavy metal, i'm not the type of tr00bie who'd consider that an insult.
Exordium Mors

Yeah I don't listen to enough to come up with 10. I've seen some great live performances from other local bands like Bulletbelt and Winter Deluge, but have barely listened to them.
if you don't enjoy anything from ABITNS-TH and TR-BFD, what black metal DO you like exactly? o_O

Actually I like a few albums by both bands: first 4 albums + Requiem by Bathory and again the first 4 + Sardonic Wrath by Darkthrone (however some of these albums are not exactly Black Metal), but generally I don't give much credit to a band just for a few good records they have along with a shitload of mediocre releases, or just because they might or might not have had an important role in something.
i'd argue that darkthrone have a minimum of three, arguably four *great* releases (although one of those is SOULSIDE JOURNEY, not PANZERFAUST, for me), a feat matched by only a handful of bands in metal history. bathory i don't rate quite so highly as darkthrone, but he was still clearly in the upper echelon of '80s bands both in terms of originality and consistent quality. virtually every legendary band turned mediocre eventually (i can seriously barely think of an exception), so if that stops them getting credit then virtually nobody warrants credit. personally i tend to think that when you've contributed that much to the genre, you earn the right to go and do your own more fun, less ambitious thing afterwards.

i also think a lot of later darkthrone is pretty great for what it is, it just isn't even trying to be original is all. later bathory on the other hand is pretty hit and miss, but let's not forget 'viking metal' was hardly a thing before quorthon established it, and nearly everything his viking stuff influenced comes up short in comparison. his later thrash stuff, on the other hand, was mostly just him fucking around.
1. Master's Hammer
2. Gorgoroth
3. Ildjarn
4. Mayhem
5. Darkthrone
6. Summoning
7. Sacramentum
8. Bathory
9. Obtained Enslavement
10. Rotting Christ
In no order

Deathspell Omega
Velvet Cacoon

In consideration: Forgotten Woods, Fullmoon, SVEST, Nokturnal Mortum, Lantlos, Immortal, Ulver.
SVEST is a band I never really got into. Although, to be fair, I haven't heard the full length. Just the EP and a split (I think; I don't fully remember with who).
I'll make my list without Darkthrone and Bathory since apparently that's a given for most of us.

Deathspell Omega
Throne of Katarsis

And just behind: Gris, Krohm, Lantlos,Mayhem, Horna, Dödsferd, Inquisition, and Enslaved.

I'll also add that Archgoat, Teitanblood, Diocletian, and a couple others in that vein are worth the list as well, they just aren't as all encompassingly satisfying.
little late to the party but whatever

Paysage d'Hiver
Enslaved (up to/including Below the Lights)
Negura Bunget (up to/including OM)
Dark Throne
Deathspell Omega
Man, you should definitely give Isa a try. It's phenomenal. Ruun and Vertebrae are solid, but at least Isa.

Below The Lights is probably my favorite though.