The music of Emperor is commonly misconceived by the mainstream metal media and certain YouTube clowns to be merely an atmospheric wall of sound or symphonic black metal orchestration engineered for superficial, surface level aesthetic appeal to an audience atypical for black metal. This is in fact not the case. In the Nightside Eclipse is just as perplexing to typical headbangers on first encounter as it was upon release in 1994. Mainstream audiences are even more flabbergasted and regard the record as a mere curiosity produced by those murderous church burners, preferring Emperor’s more rock-structured later work such as Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, which abandoned the band’s signature riffing style and method in exchange for ones influenced by more stereotypical Norwegian B-listers such as Enslaved and Kvist. Emperor did eventually sell out, becoming technical guitar wank, rock-structured heavy metal after their rhythm guitarist Samoth and drummer Faust were imprisoned in 1994 and their songwriting influence subsequently waned. Yet In the Nightside Eclipse‘s hymns to Satan and Sauron remain as natural mutations of their metallic predecessors’ attempts to imitate horror scores and classical music’s overwhelming power of sublimity.
This style is emerging as the new front for underground metal: a Paradise Lost-style lead rhythm melody laced doom metal as if played by a war metal band at death-doom paces. This takes last season’s favorite, the Incantation-derived “cavern metal” band, and adds to it melody and more distinctive traditional riffing, but keeps the same morbid subterranean atmosphere.
Orcrypt add to this formula that ability to wield classic, catchy choruses in the style of Pyogenesis or later Sodom, so that like war metal songs rumble through a series of riffs and then break into a clarity that resembles the moment on Pink Floyd album when storyline and music united. This is done within a riff vocabulary that would fit alongside later Emperor, early Mayhem, Revenge, Blasphemy and Order from Chaos. The result avoids the off/on hard/soft approach of bands from Pantera through nu-metal, and instead works up to the catchy choruses with embedded melodic rhythm leads among the surly and rapacious war metal/black metal riffing. This creates a haunting anticipation that flowers in the choruses, which are less frequent than with purely verse-chorus bands.
Pacing follows that of a doom-death band: breaking from slow to fast, to return to a mid-paced option that leads into the slow. This perpetuates the dark ambiance and enriches it with a sense of internal motivation. Orcrypt know how to remove everything but the essential in songs and then later, where it has no negative impact, work back in noisy leads and vocal accents. The result is both dark underground and has the power of traditional heavy metal.
Middle earth sweeping epic metal band Summoning are due to release their next full-length soon. Old Morning’s Dawn will follow after a lengthy gap the spectacular and critically-acclaimed Oath Bound released seven years ago.
After black metal fired off its initial salvo by 1995, Summoning rose from a melodic black metal band into their own style, which meshed longer melodies, lush keyboards and backgrounded guitars, Tolkien-derived imagery and softened but rasping vocals. Building on the work of other long-phrase black metal bands like Ancient, early Enslaved and Gorgoroth, but using its own sense of tempo and mood, Summoning quickly became a favorite for many who were searching for a new direction after the underground blazed out with a final peak of intensity in albums like Transilvanian Hunger and Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.
This weighty inheritance would be too much for any band to handle, but Summoning have refined it over the years, first adding more traditional folk elements and then dialing it back to a streamlined metal sound. During that time, they’ve also fought off accusations of political impropriety and overcome personnel changes and the mercurial black metal scene/market. With their audience primed with the release of the recent movie The Hobbit, Summoning are ready for conquest yet again.