None More Black: Big Black Riffs

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Did you burn down a church today? Have you murdered a rival musician at his doorstep? Did you make an appointment for a “die in obscurity” tattoo?

Fear not, the day is young. Toilet Ov Hell always goes live during business hours in central standard time. Your pal Edward is back to fill in as the poor man’s Howard Dean in another installment of None More Black. We eagerly await Howard to reclaim the throne. Until that time, there is none more black. Lend me your ears, reading glasses, monocles, and rubber cleaning gloves as we swim through the dark current of your favorite subgenre of extreme metal. Which subgenre are you talking about Edward? Black metal, friend.

You might be thinking, “black metal isn’t my favorite subgenre of metal”. You love heavy metal. At the very least, you like it, or are deeply curious about it. Your love, mild like, curiosity, or extreme disdain for other likable things is what brought you here today. Perhaps you are still on the fence about black metal. You dig more mainstream acts like Killswitch Engage and Lamb of God, or maybe you want to stray further from safe, conventional acts like Female Nose Breaker and Prostitute Disfigurement. You want to like black metal, but you are worried people will make fun of a twenty-something or thirty-something year old man for wearing corpse paint. Perhaps you think black metal doesn’t rock hard enough. You think all black metal has weak production or sounds tinny (you would be wrong in thinking that). You turn on black metal and think, what about the riffs? Where are the riffs brah?!

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Like a late night infomercial, I have the solution to all of your problems. The focus of this edition of None More Black is black metal bands that play big riffs. Do these bands have banshee shrieks and ghastly wails? Yes, they do. Is the production lo-fi and raw? Yes, it is. Is there an abundance of tremolo picking and dark thematic content? Check once again. I’m not here to talk about any of that shit though. The focus of this special edition of None More Black is to focus on The Riff.


Ash Pool

You may be familiar with Ash Pool as the black metal band that Prurient (Dominick Fernow) is in. If you wrote off this band as an unimportant side project, you have made a grievous error. Ash Pool was formed in 2005, and remains active today. They have released a handful of demos and EPs, as well as two full length albums and a 2013 split with Akitsa. Rather than attempt to cover their career or discography, I have selected songs from their catalog that bring The Riff. I highly encourage you, dear reader, to further investigate them. They do not have a Bandcamp page to speak of, but most of the music covered here today is available on Spotify.

“Lascivious Tyranny” comes from a 2006 demo, Genital Tomb. Ash Pool earn their raw black metal classification through the demo’s run, but “Lascivious Tyranny” finds them playing a mid-paced, driving riff which maintains its central pattern even when the track picks up speed.

Black Bondage in the North was released in 2007 on Paragon Records, outside of Fernow’s own Hospital Productions. “Whipped to Death” is the EP’s A side. Check out the humongous riffs in the beginning before this track picks up steam. Like “Lascivious Tyranny”, this track speeds up and slows down but remains around a central motif. Check it out at 1:34!

“Under Zyklon Blue” comes from World Turns on its Hinge, also released in 2007. Ash Pool prove their riffs once again by slowing down their black metal assault about midway through World Turns on its Hinge. The guitars here are placed at the front of the mix so nothing is missed.

“Big Bang Black Metal” is the third track on Ash Pool’s second full length album For Which He Plies the Lash. The title “Big Bang Black Metal” is a bit of a misnomer to me – the guitars on this track remind me a lot of vintage-era At The Gates. What do you think? See you in the comments – but not before you finish this article.

Technically two songs, Ash Pool’s Cremation is Irreversible is surprisingly lo-fi given the increased production values throughout their career. Check out the riff that crawls from under the muck around 0:47 when the track slows down.


Akitsa

Akitsa are a two piece black metal band hailing from Montreal, Quebec. Formed in 1999, this band is still active and has been composed of the same two members: O.T. and Neant. O.T. and Neant are both credited with “vocals” and “all instruments” on the band’s Metal Archives page. This band also plays a very raw form of black metal. How Ash Pool received the raw black metal classification on Metal Archives and Akitsa did not escapes me. Akitsa have released four full length albums and a wealth of EPs and splits with the likes of Prurient, Ash Pool, Satanic Warmaster, and others. Like Ash Pool, they do not have a Bandcamp page, but much of their music is available on Spotify.

“Les opposants brûleront” comes from their first full length effort Goétie released in 2001. This track opens on a simple and repetitive but effective riff until fancier playing is added near the 1:05 mark. Without paying attention, you may wonder where that melody came from.

“Sang nordique” is the self-titled track from Akitsa’s 2002 full length album. Using a similar tactic to Ash Pool’s “Under Zyklon Blue”, “Sang nordique” slows down the album down about halfway through with an undeniably catchy central riff.

The next track, “la grande infamie”, comes from La grande infamie (2006). I don’t speak French-Canadian but I am fairly certain that translates to “The Grand Infamy”. I hoped to include the track “Silence” from the same album but could not find a video available to use for this article. The riffs and melody on this track remind me as much of old punk rock as they do of black metal. That may also have to do with the shout singing vocal style which is present in between shrieking (but it would be cheating to bring that up here).

The last Akitsa track for this post comes from their 2010 full length album Au crépuscule de l’espérance, released on Fernow’s Hospital Productions. The track is “Les Sentinelles”, which is the second track on the album. This write up comes from Toilet Ov Hell’s own Christian who had this to say about the riffs, This song is the jizzle-jammer #eatdirt“. Thanks Christian.


Tukaaria

Confession: I was not hip to Tukaaria before Howard Dean recommended them to me prior to the start of this post. One of the fun things about pretending to be a writer being the greatest god damned metal blogger alive working on articles for this site has been diving into albums and artists like this. I should note that many of my articles have not been based on expertise (despite perhaps giving that impression) but rather about researching and listening to the artists covered. Enter Tukaaria and Raw to the Rapine. This one man project was covered briefly at No Clean Singing around its 2011 release, and has only released one full length album and two splits as far as I can find. Raw to the Rapine is everything I want in a black metal album. It comes from a one man metal project, which I almost always fawn over. It’s about twenty eight minutes long, which makes it easily and compulsively listenable. It’s dirty and aggressive but makes zero sacrifices in atmosphere. It’s an excellent album. I bought this album on Bandcamp at ‘name your price‘ and have listened to it extensively since. In keeping with the theme of this post, however, I will not focus on the album in its entirety but rather the riffs on the last song on it, “Transfixion”. You would be wise to check out this album in its entirety.

“Transfixion” moves slower than any song preceding it on Raw to the Rapine. Guitar tones head sideways, giving us the impression Tukaaria will break into solo territory, but he does not. The riff here churns and menaces, slowing pushing our world toward its denouement. This is paralyzing stuff. This is Raw to the Rapine’s grand finale.

I hope you have enjoyed this installment of None More Black and that you heard something you liked. Again, all of these bands are worth a much deeper investigation if you are not familiar with them. If you are on the fence about black metal, these bands might be a good place to start. It is worth noting, however, that I don’t consider any of these bands to be “false metal” or “entry level” or anything of the sort. Until next time Toilet, stay black metal, stay Finnish noise, or kill yourself for Satan.




Featured image courtesy of The Wolf of Wall Street. Corpse paint courtesy of Stockhausen. Thanks to Christian for some editing input to wrap this up.

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