Any thoughts on The Abyss (swe), Grotesque and Antaeus???
The Abyss is a fairly good band. They're kind of a product of that whole melodic black metal trend from the mid 90s, but they do it better than most, and have a semi-unique sound mostly due to being outsiders (death metal musicians) looking in (at black metal).
Grotesque is essential, possibly better than Entombed in my estimation. They have a knack for epic, narrative song structures, but they can also really thrash when they want to, on a Kreator/Merciless level. I don't know how much influence they had on other black metal bands that came later on, but I see them as halfway between first-wave and second-wave black metal, occupying the same space as bands like Samael, Merciless, and Tormentor. In particular, I would suggest listening to their song Incantation, which rivals Therion's The Way in terms of overall symphonic (compositionally, not aesthetically) songwriting scope, as well as their song Submit to Death, which has one of the best executed thrash breaks this side of Awakening of the Gods.
Antaeus I've never really gotten into; I appreciate their attempts to fuse ambient segues with blistering black metal, but I think Averse Sefira do what they do a lot more effectively. Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan is still definitely a well-composed album; it just hasn't really clicked with me. Worth listening to in order to decide for yourself.
Anyway, the Sorhin
albums I recently posted in Audiofile are some exemplary pieces of black metal. I describe their sounds in more detail in their respective threads. Also, the new Wormrot album is top-notch if you enjoy grindcore.