Winter is Coming - Shadowdoom9's melodic/symphonic black metal exploration

First Post November 20, 2023 12:48 AM

For years, I have deemed myself a metalhead but never one with black metal. Y'know, the genre that is problematic for me because of its satanic themes and its destructive scene that band members have participated in. With that said, there have been several bands that I enjoy or used to enjoy, and almost all of them ended up in a different genre before or after one or a few black metal albums. The bands I still enjoy are Abigail Williams, In the Woods..., Covenant/The Kovenant, and Dodheimsgard. Then when Rex added Arcturus' debut to his Official Chart Reviewers Club Thread (Purely Optional), I gave that album a revisit after having abandoned it for a couple years, and remembered its epic glory, fitting well for the harsh cold winter coming soon (something I can't personally experience when I'm living near the equator). And its subgenre symphonic black metal is the best way for my imagination to go North. Although some bands of the subgenre still have the anti-religious lyrical themes expected in standard black metal, many others explore different themes of astronomy, divination, war, folklore, etc., themes that I already know from when I was listening to power/symphonic/progressive/folk metal. So it is time for Shadowdoom9 to visit the Viking's home in The North and protect their land (, though if those Vikings do any church burnings or murders, this metal warrior is too good to do any of that and won't participate. Of course, a couple albums might deviate from symphonic black metal while staying melodic. And whether or not I enjoy a lot of it, I never plan on converting to The North, like ever. Anyway, onward!

I count my review for that Arcturus album as the first part of my exploration. Review summary is in this link:

November 20, 2023 01:52 AM

Emperor is known as the band that pioneered symphonic black metal and a once forbidden aspect adding keyboards to black metal, with their 1994 debut In the Nightside Eclipse. I've actually checked out that album a few years ago, but backed out from there, because I wasn't ready to go down that route, and all members of the band who recorded that album except Ihsahn were arrested and jailed for many crimes. So let's go to their second album Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. Here are my thoughts:

Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk continues to shape up the band's symphonic black metal. Here the songs are more anthemic and the keyboards have much more prominence instead of being left in the background. With synthesized string crescendos and mystical lyrical themes, the vibe is more medieval than satanic. Also to add into the sound of extreme chaos, the imprisoned murderer drummer Faust was replaced with the guy from Enslaved's Frost, Trym. His crazy blast-beat drumming was what made the first two Enslaved albums stand out in pummeling fury with his super strength, and he has encouraged other extreme metal drummers to break the ground to the Earth's core. But this constant raging stream can be a bit repetitive and get old fast. As much as I enjoy this speedy chaos, it's not as essential as everything else in the instrumentation. Trym and Hellhammer are two amazing drummers, but... Yeah, we get it! You can drum like a madman. Still they're true forces of chaos in the genre. You can also hear chaotic speed and technical riffing from the guitar duo of Ihsahn and Samoth, and their tremendous writing shows their true genius. Dissonant harmonies and tremolos add more to the sound that's already cinematic as it is. The epic fury shows the direction the band wanted to take, heading for glory while having some of their earlier brutality. There is also Ihsahn's snarled vocals and occasional clean singing, and Alver's bass fills. Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk may be different from their debut, but it's an essential part of the band's evolution that would continue into their next two albums. Apart from a bit of repetition and cheesiness, this is epic furious symphonic black metal that any of the more extreme metalheads should listen to!


November 20, 2023 02:20 AM

If you're looking for suggestions; Dissection, Dark Mirror ov Tragedy, and Bal-Sagoth are pretty nice and I'm pretty sure none have much in the ways of satanic lyrics. Though Dissection has some weird stuff going on with it.

November 20, 2023 06:18 AM

Thanks, Morpheus! I'll check out some of those bands soon.

November 20, 2023 08:04 AM

Be aware Andi that Dissection main man Jon Nödtveidt was a self-proclaimed and active satanist who was convicted of accessory to murder. He commited suicide by gunshot wound and his body was found with an open satanic grimoire next to it.

Also, whilst he denounces acts of violence and was never involved in murder or church burning, Ihsahn is also a self-proclaimed satanist.

November 20, 2023 08:30 AM

Also, whilst he denounces acts of violence and was never involved in murder or church burning, Ihsahn is also a self-proclaimed satanist.

Quoted Sonny

Ihsahn was the goody two-shoes of the band too. Off the top of my head, I can recall at least three other Emperor members serving time for murder, assault &/or church-burning.

I have to ask if we really need dedicated threads for this type of thing too Andi. We already have dedicated threads for Symphonic Black Metal & Melodic Black Metal where this conversation would be better served in my opinion.

November 20, 2023 09:16 AM

This thread is mostly just to journal my progress in my exploration, Daniel, though if I find a release that doesn't get talked about often in the site, I'll take it to one of those other threads for more open discussion.

November 20, 2023 10:22 AM

Ulver is the main band of former Arcturus vocalist Garm, an experimental electronic band that started off as black metal and dark folk in their first 3 albums, with this album Nattens Madrigal displaying the most of the former. The lyrics centered around wolves in the dark night and the sinister tremolos having some melody are what turn me on in these raw punishing black metal "Wolf Hymns" that I would've backed away from otherwise. Here are my thoughts:

Ulver started off as folk-black metal in their debut Bergtatt. Then they took out all of their metal in their dark folk album Kveldssanger. And where did they put all their leftover black metal? In this album, Nattens madrigal! They also spent all their recording money on drugs and a Corvette just so they could record the album in a forest using a tape recorder. Of course, that's just a rumor, but with this harsh raw production, you might think that was real... Try to find any acoustic folk in this album. Spoiler: There's almost none. The second minute of the album's opening track is a nice beautiful acoustic section. You might think they would have more to bring back the Bergtatt sound, but that's not the case here. The chaos returns at the start of the 3rd minute and is like that for the rest of the album, minus some brief ambient intermissions between tracks. What I like the most about the instrumentation is when melody is added to the vicious guitar work in brilliant contrast with the lo-fi production, aggressive drumming, and snarling vocal range. All that makes this album probably one of the best examples of the heavier side of black metal for me!


November 20, 2023 11:35 AM

This thread is mostly just to journal my progress in my exploration

Quoted Shadowdoom9 (Andi)

That’s what reviews are for Andi. No more personalized threads please as they do nothing to encourage sharing, communication & collaboration given that the only one that can contribute much is the author. 

November 20, 2023 12:05 PM

OK then, Daniel. I have one more album to review, then that's it for this thread. Probably for this exploration as well, because as much as I enjoy what I've reviewed so far, I feel the need to stop for my own moral values.

November 20, 2023 01:59 PM