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"Solar Metal", "Sun Metal", or something along those lines

I have no idea what to call this, but it's essentially the kind of music I think I'm writing at the moment for Wiht.  It's based technically in Black Metal - tremolo picked riffs, d/blast beats, "shrieked" vocals etc. - but that's essentially where similarities end.  Black Metal evokes darkness, occasionally even melancholy, in the listener, while still, at its heights, emanating power and force.  When I first started writing Metal, this is the atmosphere I tried to create, and, probably because I'm not of a suitable disposition to do anything groundbreaking in this mood, I never quite "clicked" with it, and my compositions suffered as a result.  Now, I'm allowing myself more free reign, and I find that I tend towards melodies (important point there) and riffs which are focused almost enitrely on evoking a sense of sheer power and exuberance in the listener, a primal "joy", for want of a better word.  The feeling of having just killed three enemies on the field in quick succession, tinged with the knowledge that the battle is far from over, never mind the war; the sense of being the Cimmerian, fighting an uneven battle, with death looming over you at each second, while your companions' lives hang in the balance; ultimately, the notion of being the God, watching heroes struggle to act as best they can, faced with seemingly insurmountable horrors.

As ever, it's very hard for me to accurately describe, in writing, the emotions which I'm attempting to bring about, which is why I choose music as my medium.  So far, I've all but finished two songs in this style, and a fair amount of "transition" material between last year's purposefully "pagan" material and what I'm attempting to summon now.  I'll break down some of the important points (or, at least, the points which are, to me, important):

1.  Melodies.  Rather than sticking to the idea of "the riff" - riff A x 4, riff B x 4, riff A2 x 4, etc. - I've started writing "riffs" of sufficient length that they feel completed after being played once (or twice, for emphasis/crescendo), which, I would say, qualifies them as "melodies", albeit recurrent ones, depending on the song.  This is, in my view, the musical equivalent of moving from 16-bit to 32-bit processors.

2.  Harmonies.  I put a lot of harmony into my work (as well as counterpoint).  I use three guitars, and possibly a bass in the future, so why should all three guitars play one guitar line all the time?  One of the biggest annoyances of a lot of modern "Metal" is that the guitar work is absolutely static, and the presence of more than one guitar is so that there can be a backing riff for all of the wank-tastic solos that come after the second chorus.

3.  Expanding riffs.  This is more of a continuation of what I was doing last year, but I generally don't repeat riffs as they appeared previously, either in an earlier section of a song, or even consecutively.  I've also started considering fusing riffs to create a new riff, either one after the other, or on top of each other ("layering", as in Summoning, for example).  This can, of course, work the other way - a riff using counterpoint can be deconstructed, and each part can be played as a riff of its own, or fused with other parts.  Given that I absolutely love relating parts of (or entire) songs to others (the storyteller in me), this becomes a good method of melding and breaking apart "themes", with the possibility of the end product seeming unrelated to the original without knowledge of the journey between the two points.

(4.  Clean vocals; choral work.  I haven't (yet) put any of this into the two songs which I've written most recently for Wiht, but it's something which I'd really like to do, especially considering some of the thematic content of the songs that I've written/am writing.  Deathmetal.org made a point about "unmoving and halfhearted chants" being the "blight of heathen metal", and I absolutely agree, which is why I'm going to have any clean vocals be more reminiscent of Hansi Kürsch's choruses for Blind Guardian, or Fenriz's bellows on Isengard, than the standard lifeless warble of Heidevolk/Ensiferum/Forefather and co.)

(5.  No drums?  I'm toying with the idea of writing some guitar-only [or guitar and vocal] pieces, or at least diminishing the drumming to time-keeping toms, so as to let the actual music shine through.  The only problem with this is that quite a lot of the dramatic effect of metal riffs comes from the accentuation of the guitar parts by cymbal hits and drum rolls.  This will probably depend on whether I develop any thematic material which would make more sense without drums.)

The latter two aren't as important as the former three, which are what make this music stand out from the rest of the epic, melodic, pagan-tinged pop metal being shelved out today.

The purpose of this thread is to cement my ideas in writing, ask for criticism/questioning of the outlined ideas, and to see if anyone else can name any bands which already write music in a similar way to this who aren't Summoning or Summoning clones.

i've always found a sense of power in the darkness that black metal provokes. i've never once approached black metal with the idea that this sort of music should evoke a melancholy mood. is it odd that i experience feelings of power, vigor, and appreciation of life when i listen to burzum and darkthrone? i get what you're saying, but if black metal makes you sad i don't think you're approaching it correctly. could you upload an example of your work, so that i can better appreciate what you're trying to convey?

There's a difference between "melancholy" and "sadness": the former implies an active pursuit of the experience.  It's a Romantic concept, principally, best evidenced in some of Keats's better works.

The following is a guitar-only version of a song which isn't yet finished - ignore the abrupt/crap transition towards the end of the piece, I have yet to work out the penultimate section.

http://hessian.org.uk/Amidst%20the%20Light%20of%20Eldritch%20Fires.mp3

Some cursory thoughts from a single play through. I'm quite tired so take this with a grain of salt.

Overall: The potential is there. But this is still pretty far from being an excellent work of metal.

Reminds me of Kroda sans keyboards, + counterpoint

I feel as though this piece lacks a firm anchor. The contrapuntal melodies are splendiferous in and of themselves but become garbled in continuity. Most classical pieces start monophonically, introducing a theme, before layering.

And yes, that transition was atrocious.

Highlight: when melody A returns towards the end suspended in twilight between those shorter melodic figures -- gave me the ol' tinglies.

I think there's some real potential in that link you posted. Strangely I got a  bit of a Burzum vibe at times, even though you're moving away from black metal. Keep working!

My thoughts on what you posted: The riffs and melodies are quite evocative and compelling, and feel to me like the direction you were trying to explain. It did feel like the song loses energy near the mid-way point at least. I think that drums would actually be far more suitable to these types (tremolo) of riffs, since they give an enhanced sense of forward energy. I know that your direction is different, but if you want to hear the best this expansive style of riffs has been done, listen to and really study the entirety of Far Away From The Sun. I think if you could take your more expansive and classical-esque (in terms of technique) style and maintain the wild intensity coupled with the sense of control and cohesion that FAFTS has, you could really make it work into something special.

Also, I agree that metal would do well to have the bellowing and masculine vocals of Isengard.

Good to see Wiht still alive!

Am I the only one that hears a strong swedish influence? Sacramentum and Dissection? Liking it. I think it is remarkably fluid.

Almost sounds like the LOTR soundtrack translated into metal (2:00), with a few parts that bring Forefather and similar Brits to mind.

Huge improvement from previous works, less "ahoy matey!" and more battle triumph.



Quote
Kroda... Sacramentum... Dissection... Forefather

It's round 2 of "hmm, sounds like <band I haven't heard before> at times".

Of those four, I've only listened to Forefather (crap) and Sacramentum.  I haven't listened to Far Away from the Sun enough to fully appreciate it, though I think I'm not going to be quite as inspired by it as other users on this forum - something about their harmonic sense irritates me, in a very minor way, but enough to put me off.  Maybe I'll get over that, maybe not.  Still, I can see what you mean by "wild intensity" and "control and cohesion", nothingnowhere.  For the drum work, I was thinking of doing a more explosive Emperor/Setherial/later Graveland style, making sure that the drums are tailored perfectly to the guitars, as opposed to using stock beats and rhythms, which should capture that same sense as Sacramentum, as far as "control and cohesion" is concerned.  I'll definitely give Far Away from the Sun closer listens.

I feel as though this piece lacks a firm anchor. The contrapuntal melodies are splendiferous in and of themselves but become garbled in continuity. Most classical pieces start monophonically, introducing a theme, before layering.

I'm still undecided as to whether to have an intro for this song consisting of the first melody played on a horn, harp, or a similarly "soft" instrument.  It could tie in with the concept of the song, but I generally don't like "intros" of that sort (I want my Metal to be Metal).  In the finished product, there'll probably be a bit more build up to the full harmonies, rather than introducing them straight away as I've done in this recording, but it won't be to the same extent as the first Wiht release, for which almost every bit of harmony was evolution from a monophonic riff.  Maybe the song will work better in the context of everything else I'm writing at the moment.

Cheers for other compliments/criticisms.  The more input I get from other people, the more easily I recognise the mistakes I've made.

Regarding the use of drums, I would think in getting ideas from classical percussion, rather than the rock patching that it is usually made with standard kits.

One drummer that I really like, is Lasse Pelkonen, from Skepticism, he seems to have this understanding of percussions, even when he is working with a standard kit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChtjvBW1Seg

Also, this song at moments, and other's from their "Alloy" have a very luminous sound. Please, don't be afraid of using major harmonies, not to make happy fairy fests like Fintroll, but to allow the flow of harmonic functions in a mood that hasn't been very explored in metal.

Why don't we just cut to the chase and call this 'happy metal'? Early black and death metal was interesting because it did not set up camp in a single 'mood' or atmosphere and then stubbornly refuse to move, but instead developed pattern-structure in a multifaceted context. I think your technique is excellent, but I'd like to hear the piece develop a bit more.

Why don't we just cut to the chase and call this 'happy metal'? Early black and death metal was interesting because it did not set up camp in a single 'mood' or atmosphere and then stubbornly refuse to move, but instead developed pattern-structure in a multifaceted context. I think your technique is excellent, but I'd like to hear the piece develop a bit more.

I strongly disagree. I love black metal and all, but I can't hear that prismatic quality of classical music in it. It's clearly dark and yes, it goes through varying dark shades of color, but that's it. Technically, the use of parallel minor chords seems to me as a strong impulse to avoid the "light" of major chords, not that they don't happen, but they aren't as preferred as minor chords, and by far. The same goes for the modes of melodies.

Solar, or apollinian metal seems, theoretically, to be a legit concept to me, but of course, it could be limited then by its own luminous shades...

All of the Slavic attempts at the concept have bored me to tears. If the goal of 'Apollonian metal' is to utilize the prismatic quality of classical music within the context of heavy metal, and all past heavy metal has not yet fully utilized this quality, then I would have to conclude that this particular example of 'Apollonian metal' hasn't even come close as some of the lower tiers of quality of early black and death metal has at producing music of prismatic nature. Also, I could easily imagine this quantifier of 'prismatic' being misunderstood, abstracted into a technical definition, and thusly abused. Metal shouldn't attempt to kiss the feet of Beethoven if it isn't up to the task, let alone stand shoulder to shoulder with him.

Why don't we just cut to the chase and call this 'happy metal'?

Because it's not "happy".  The mood isn't "light", overall, though, as in life, there are moments of happiness (which are, unfortunately/rightly, always tainted by the darkness of life).  Bear in mind that this is still Heavy Metal - the subject matter is still dark, even if it's from the perspective of one who struggles to move towards the light (which might explain Forbinator hearing something Burzumic in the song I posted).  "Amidst..." is bittersweet enough to show this, surely.  I don't presume to be above enjoying and interpreting my own music: I think that what I've written there accurately represents the same notion of "struggle" that I set out to represent, and that I outlined at the end of my first post.

I probably won't use many major chords, because I don't like them as much as minor chords.  The Major mode always makes me think of whimsy - "strolling through the park one day" mentality.  Definitely not something which would fit in, thematically, though, of course, if it makes more sense from a musical perspective to use a major chord/harmony, then I will, if only in transition.