From the DLA forum:
I have no idea what to call this, but it’s essentially the kind of music I think I’m writing at the moment for Wiht. It’s based technically in Black Metal – tremolo picked riffs, d/blast beats, “shrieked” vocals etc. – but that’s essentially where similarities end. Black Metal evokes darkness, occasionally even melancholy, in the listener, while still, at its heights, emanating power and force. When I first started writing Metal, this is the atmosphere I tried to create, and, probably because I’m not of a suitable disposition to do anything groundbreaking in this mood, I never quite “clicked” with it, and my compositions suffered as a result. Now, I’m allowing myself more free reign, and I find that I tend towards melodies (important point there) and riffs which are focused almost enitrely on evoking a sense of sheer power and exuberance in the listener, a primal “joy”, for want of a better word. The feeling of having just killed three enemies on the field in quick succession, tinged with the knowledge that the battle is far from over, never mind the war; the sense of being the Cimmerian, fighting an uneven battle, with death looming over you at each second, while your companions’ lives hang in the balance; ultimately, the notion of being the God, watching heroes struggle to act as best they can, faced with seemingly insurmountable horrors.
As ever, it’s very hard for me to accurately describe, in writing, the emotions which I’m attempting to bring about, which is why I choose music as my medium. So far, I’ve all but finished two songs in this style, and a fair amount of “transition” material between last year’s purposefully “pagan” material and what I’m attempting to summon now. I’ll break down some of the important points (or, at least, the points which are, to me, important):
1. Melodies. Rather than sticking to the idea of “the riff” – riff A x 4, riff B x 4, riff A2 x 4, etc. – I’ve started writing “riffs” of sufficient length that they feel completed after being played once (or twice, for emphasis/crescendo), which, I would say, qualifies them as “melodies”, albeit recurrent ones, depending on the song. This is, in my view, the musical equivalent of moving from 16-bit to 32-bit processors.
2. Harmonies. I put a lot of harmony into my work (as well as counterpoint). I use three guitars, and possibly a bass in the future, so why should all three guitars play one guitar line all the time? One of the biggest annoyances of a lot of modern “Metal” is that the guitar work is absolutely static, and the presence of more than one guitar is so that there can be a backing riff for all of the wank-tastic solos that come after the second chorus.
3. Expanding riffs. This is more of a continuation of what I was doing last year, but I generally don’t repeat riffs as they appeared previously, either in an earlier section of a song, or even consecutively. I’ve also started considering fusing riffs to create a new riff, either one after the other, or on top of each other (“layering”, as in Summoning, for example). This can, of course, work the other way – a riff using counterpoint can be deconstructed, and each part can be played as a riff of its own, or fused with other parts. Given that I absolutely love relating parts of (or entire) songs to others (the storyteller in me), this becomes a good method of melding and breaking apart “themes”, with the possibility of the end product seeming unrelated to the original without knowledge of the journey between the two points.
(4. Clean vocals; choral work. I haven’t (yet) put any of this into the two songs which I’ve written most recently for Wiht, but it’s something which I’d really like to do, especially considering some of the thematic content of the songs that I’ve written/am writing. Deathmetal.org made a point about “unmoving and halfhearted chants” being the “blight of heathen metal”, and I absolutely agree, which is why I’m going to have any clean vocals be more reminiscent of Hansi Kürsch’s choruses for Blind Guardian, or Fenriz’s bellows on Isengard, than the standard lifeless warble of Heidevolk/Ensiferum/Forefather and co.)
(5. No drums? I’m toying with the idea of writing some guitar-only [or guitar and vocal] pieces, or at least diminishing the drumming to time-keeping toms, so as to let the actual music shine through. The only problem with this is that quite a lot of the dramatic effect of metal riffs comes from the accentuation of the guitar parts by cymbal hits and drum rolls. This will probably depend on whether I develop any thematic material which would make more sense without drums.)
The latter two aren’t as important as the former three, which are what make this music stand out from the rest of the epic, melodic, pagan-tinged pop metal being shelved out today.