A Trio of Technicality

After initially not being extremely impressed with Deathspell Omega’s much-lauded Paracletus, I recently revisited it. I discovered what I had missed in previous listens and now I can appreciate it for the masterwork that it truly is. And doing so has made me interested in bands like them who play black metal with a higher musical pedigree. The term technical black metal is such an oxymoron that it shouldn’t exist but of course, it does. Launching into a search for bands who play simultaneiously play at both ends of the spectrum was not easy, but I came across some fascinating examples that are too good not to share.

Recommended by a friend, this first group adds in even another very un-black metal inspiration to their already barely-existent sub-subgenre: Christianity. Religious view aside, Drottnar are too talented to be ignored. Their most recent album, 2012’s Stratum is simply jaw-dropping. Guitarists this skilled tend to play in wankery tech-death bands, a far cry from the common colleague of Fenriz. Self-proclaimed defenders of “bunker metal” these war-obsessed mongrels are as schizophrenic as they are intelligent.

A bit closer to home, the Bandcamp crowd may know this Brooklyn quartet. They remind much more of the infamous French masterminds, but they take the same formula and amp it up to its extreme. Faster, more dissonant, and more experimental, they have little in common with their shoegazing, hip neighbors.

While nowhere near as technical as the first two bands, Mörk Gryning’s final album has just enough of an angular, industrial edge to drive it into territory more complex and convoluted than 90% of their Swedish countrymen. The fist-pumping riffs and nonstop tempo changes made their swan song an instant classic that most likely never see its equal in this corner of the black arts. Ending on a high note is always welcome, but one this high creates a disappointing void.

Atmospheric, hypnotic, and trance-inducing these bands are not. Nor will your average basement dwelling solo project be able to replicate such such mastery without a few more years locked in the dark. But bands like these improve the outlook of their genre by injecting some much needed skill and forward-thinking songwriting. The tremolo is dead. Love live the tremolo.

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