Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Symphonic Black Metal Scene
Band Photo: Gothmog (?)
Continuing our ongoing coverage of black metal history month, it’s time to dive into three more underground acts that don’t have as large a following as the biggest names in the scene, but are still among the best the genre has to offer. Last week we highlighted three misanthropic black metal bands, and now it’s time to check out groups that take the sound in a different direction.
Pipe organs, keyboards, violins, a grandiose style; all these and more are typical of this breed of metal, in which screeches from hell and fast paced guitars meet beautiful heights of orchestral symphonies. From the mildly melodic to the completely symphonic, these three bands show that injecting non-metal elements doesn’t have to detract from the darkness.
Hailing from black metal ground zero (that mythical land and metal Mecca otherwise known as Norway) and featuring Windir keyboardist Gaute Refsnes, Cor Scorpii has the requisite pedigree to grab the attention of genre fans. Unlike with the other two bands covered this week, Cor Scorpii’s keyboards are tempered and held on a fairly tight leash, letting the guitar tone drive the music. This tasteful restraint results in a sound that is melodic and highly atmospheric without getting overbearingly symphonic. The end product has a swelling and epic quality that is surprising considering the presence of the extremely harsh vocals and dark feeling. Even with the melodic bent the band’s music still tends to be properly dark and chilling, as any black metal release should.
So far Cor Scorpii’s fans have had to be content with only a single proper album, but – praise be to the dark one! – the band officially began the recording process for a sophomore album and follow-up to the debut full-length “Monument” earlier this month. Keep up with Cor Scorpii’s latest activity via Facebook or get a taste of the band’s mix of the extreme and the melodic through the songs below.
“Ei Fane Svart”
“I, The Damned”
A side project that’s been woefully inactive for some time now, DragonLord is easily as or perhaps even more symphonic than the infamous Dimmu Borgir, and there’s even some echoes of the likes of Cradle of Filth to be heard in the music. Considering the presence of Eric Peterson from Testament, it shouldn’t be surprising that there’s a thrash influence going on, but DrgaonLord is still solidly in symphonic black metal territory.
DragonLord released the debut album “Rapture” (reviewed here) way back in 2001, with a sophomore album following it in 2005. The band has been in limbo since then, but it was recently revealed that DrgonLord is finally in the thick of creating a third album, with more details on the way. In the mean time, get acquainted with the band’s back catalog by checking out a song from each of the previous albums in the clips below.
“The Curse of Woe”
Hailing from Spain rather than any of the standard expected locations like Norway or Sweden, Gothmog has an extreme guitar and synth focused sound that rivals anything put out by the staple acts in the symphonic black metal realm. The band went through a series of lineup changes, including parting with two vocalists, after the release of the debut album “A Step in the Dark” (reviewed here). After all the uncertainty things seem to finally be stabilizing as Gothmog will soon be releasing a second album titled “Aeons of Deception.”
Gothmog’s music can be heard online through the band’s Facebook page, or you can check out tracks from both the last album and the upcoming new release below.
“Nostalgia of Heaven”
“Beyond the Mist of Time”
Since the ‘90s explosion of black metal there have been an ever growing number of acts in the scene, so clearly there are even more quality symphonic bands out there. Feel free to discuss your favorite symphonic black metal bands below and let us know of any acts that may have flown under our radar so far. Check back again next Monday as we continue to unearth the metal underground and reveal more unknown metal bands worth hearing.
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