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Unearthing The Metal Underground: More Of The Symphonic Black Metal Scene

Heavy music has been steadily evolving since its first major appearances, from slow moving doom to blistering fast thrash and onto the most brutal death metal. Somewhere after figuring out corpse paint and freezing cold riffs somebody decided extreme metal could include unexpected elements like string instruments, keyboards, and other orchestral leanings. The symphonic and the extreme collided, and somehow it worked out.

Now some 15 - 20 years later bands are still finding ways to meld together these two styles, but for symphonic black metal junkies the pool of available talent isn’t as wide as with other sub-genres. You’ve likely heard everything from Dimmu Borgir and Old Man’s Child a hundred times over, blazed through the couple of Dragon Lord releases, imported all those Opera IX CDs, and are done working through the Carach Angren back catalog…so what now?

We’ve previously taken a look at a few symphonic black metal acts as well as other heavily atmospheric bands, but there’s still more underground groups worth checking out if you need more orchestral influenced black metal.


This Belgian outfit is on the verge of releasing second album “Ritu” in January 2013 (reviewed here), which follows the debut “Irreversible Decay” album. The album focuses on different rites of various cultures and mythologies, including a dose of Lovecraftian rituals with songs like “Haunter of the Dark” and “Fhtagn.”

For more info on the album, check out our interview with the band just after the recording process was finished. Get acquainted with Saille’s version of symphonic black metal through songs off both albums, available below.

Nokturnal Mortum

Nokturnal Mortum is quite a long running entity in the symphonic black metal world, but hasn’t become as well known as other acts that got their start in the ‘90s. Whether because of their geographic location (the Ukraine isn’t as well known for these acts as say Norway or the like), or because of ties to the National Socialist Black Metal scene in the band’s early years, Nokturnal Mortum still remains a bit on the obscure side.

The group is still running strong however and shifting more towards a folk sound over time, having released a DVD earlier this year titled “Kolovorot” and dropping last full-length studio album “The Voice of Steel” back in 2009. Keep up with the latest info via Facebook, or take a time warp from the beginning of Nokturnal Mortum’s music to its contemporary sound with songs off both the band’s debut and most recent releases here:


Spanish act Absentia is a newer entity in the grand scheme of symphonic black metal, having formed in the middle 2000’s and only releasing two albums thus far: debut “Heaven Still Burns” and 2011’s “Our Bleeding Sun.” The band blurs the lines a bit between styles, as the guitar tone doesn’t always stay in black metal and sometimes the vocals stray into other areas as well.

The symphonic elements are more front and center with Absentia, and the music occasionally has a grander scale than some of the band’s peers, like a sweeping score to an epic movie. Check out what Absentia has to offer in the YouTube clips below.

Now that you’ve got three more bands in your symphonic black metal arsenal, let us know what you thought of these picks or share your favorite groups from this style in the comments below. Be sure to check back in again next Monday as we continue to unearth more underground metal bands.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur splits his time between writing dark fiction, spreading the word about underground metal bands, and bringing you the latest gaming news. His sci-fi, grimdark fantasy, and horror novels can be found at Amazon.

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4 Comments on "Unearthing More Of The Symphonic Metal Scene"

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Anonymous Reader
1. SWLatour writes:

Great article. The only band that I had heard of before was Saille. I really like Absentia. One of my favorite symphonic bands is Capitollium from Ukraine. They are currently unsigned but check them out.

# Dec 19, 2012 @ 5:49 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
mks's avatar


2. mks writes:

symphonic operatic excellence--In Virtue's album Embrace the Horror

# Dec 26, 2012 @ 5:39 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
3. johnny ballgame writes:

Ya N Mortum, i just got into those guys earlier this year, awesome stuff.
A fan of symphonic black/ambient metal the past 8 years, i thank dimmu borgir for opening the doors for me into this genere.

# Dec 26, 2012 @ 7:05 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
4. Art Vandaley writes:

Keep these in mind for future sampling

Neron Kaisar
Gloomy Grim
Fleshgod Apocalypse
Imperial Vengeance
Vesperian Sorrow
All Devouring Light
Advent Sorrow
Black Messiah
Astel Oscora
Dawn of Tears

# Dec 27, 2012 @ 12:37 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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