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Motifs and leitmotifs in heavy metal

Trauco

Motifs and leitmotifs in heavy metal
July 23, 2009, 12:02:27 AM
Quote
The use of motifs and leitmotifs is very frequent in the musical genres of classical and opera, but we can also find some examples of their use in that furious contemporary “classical” brand of sound making we known as heavy metal.

(blah, blah, blah)

Motifs have been used in metal music for all of its existence. In fact, the first motif in the history of the genre is the universally recognizable three-note sequence which is the main riff of the song “Black Sabbath” by the band of the same name. What would the rest of the song be without it? Like this trascendental example, motifs are the norm, rather than the exception, in metal.

http://www.hessian.org/heavy_metal/2009/07/22/motifs-and-leitmotifs-in-metal/


Re: Motifs and leitmotifs in heavy metal
July 23, 2009, 07:47:39 AM
The second side of Fates Warning's No Exit is a massive speed metal suite entitled "The Ivory Gate of Dreams". It features a repeated motif that is first hinted at in a few sections early on before appearing in its most triumphant form after a particularly vicious thrash break as a slow-burning guitar lead ala the last section of Burzum's "Key to the Gate". The vocal melody answers plainitively but with a lot of strength before the song again returns to the motif in the form of an acoustic decrescendo, a haunting end to one of the most underrated classics of 80s speed metal.

Re: Motifs and leitmotifs in heavy metal
July 23, 2009, 08:36:28 AM
I might add that Fates Warning was a heavily Iron Maiden influenced band, so it comes as no surprise that much of their 80's work is marked by techniques such as the one attributed to "Seventh Son..." in the original article. Afterwards, Dream Theater corrupted this idea much the same way Pink Frothy AIDS did in death metal.

Re: Motifs and leitmotifs in heavy metal
July 23, 2009, 09:09:54 AM
Dream Theater is one of the worst things to ever happen to metal. They made a multi-song suite spanning multiple albums about the fucking AA twelve-step processs. That's pretty much the most unmetal thing ever.

Anyway, Graveland's Immortal Pride makes interesting use of motifs in very loping song structures, both on the Bathory-style "Sons of Fire and Steel" and the more black metal-oriented "Sacrifice for Honour". Incidentally, the beginning of the latter song sounds exactly like something Drudkh would do, only half a decade earlier and a thousand times better. Guess the internet's favorite black metal band isn't so inventive and transcendant after all.

MLK

Re: Motifs and leitmotifs in heavy metal
July 23, 2009, 09:46:43 AM
Couple of very cool examples of recurring motifs in death metal come from Asphyx (intro to the The Rack and the title track) and Sinister (intro to the album Hate and the track Awaiting the Absu). Both times the intros present a portion of a thought then repeats that thought later in the album within a different context.

Motivic writing is a big part of metal. Sometimes its a very definite part of the writing process (Therion's Beyond Sanctorum - listen to the way new riffs are almost always a variation of a preceding riff) other times its implied by the similarity of riffs and tonal pallette a band/album uses (Discharge and Ildjarn are good examples of this, but you can also hear it in Slayer, Malevolent Creation and tons of other bands). One other explicit example of motivic metal is Aisling Dhorcha by Beithíoch (main theme occurs in the intro, then the first and last metal tracks are built around it).

The best metal writing like classical is prismatic: it presents several views of similar or the same ideas to create a sophisticated sense of interconnectedness to the whole. Philosophical implications abound.

Re: Motifs and leitmotifs in heavy metal
August 18, 2009, 02:16:00 PM
Another excellent usage of this can be found in the opening and closing tracks of "The Key Of Throne"

Re: Motifs and leitmotifs in heavy metal
September 02, 2009, 10:58:27 PM
The best metal writing like classical is prismatic: it presents several views of similar or the same ideas to create a sophisticated sense of interconnectedness to the whole. Philosophical implications abound.

And is this interconnectedness forged?

I find it telling that this post, probably the most important on this whole web site, got only five replies.

Re: Motifs and leitmotifs in heavy metal
September 05, 2009, 06:45:53 PM
I know that there are a couple of occasions in the Immortal discography there are rec-occurrences of the same riff from time-to time. I mainly noticed this when listening to 'Battles In The North' and 'At The Heart Of Winter'.

Though not the work of the same artist, if you listen to the song 'Infernal Summer' by Primordial, and then 'Call Of The Wintermoon' by Immortal, you will notice the exact use of the same opening riff, but a differing variation on rhythmic structure.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6pX1sy8Ib0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEIF6TUgtZs

Intentional or not, a resemblance can't be denied...

Re: Motifs and leitmotifs in heavy metal
September 05, 2009, 07:00:13 PM
The drum fill used throughout "Eternal Years On The Path To The Cemetary Gates"  is also used in "Pure Holocaust".
Let us go beyond "you" and "me"! Feel cosmically!
   
    Friedrich Nietzsche