#1
Unholy greetings.

So, I've become a great fan of black metal in the last years, and from what I've heard, composing black metal is selecting a maximum of 5 chords that make a "raw" progression and tremolo until you break your strings (or yourself), then adding some "vocals" with lyrics like "We love Satan, we burn churches, we like killing and drinkin' blood" or something in that style...

Now, seriously, I would like some tips on composing black metal, like what's the best way to make a structure for a black metal song, good drum bases for the genre and that kind of stuff. Any tip would be great.
#2
depends on the kind of black metal, but in general the rule of thumb is to listen to the bands you like, learn their music, and figure out how to make those effects happen

for stuff like immortal, it's practically just really sharp thrash metal dumbed down and filled with aesthetic. you'll mostly just use power chords, b5, and blastbeats


emperor is in that same vein but a lot more creative, expressive, and altogether interesting. you'll use more b3 dyads, some sus2/4s if i remember right - basically modified power chords, because they sound less "together" or coherent than a traditional power chord, allow for extensions, and under high gain just sound interesting when you tremolo pick them





my jam is mostly leviathan and DSBM like silencer. leviathan is mostly on the sludgier side, while silencer uses fairly clean production and simple arrangements, clean ambient guitars, and dynamics







one piece of advice i saw on an article here years ago about making black metal is, "always play your power chords minor. in major chords and power chords, there is hope, but in black metal, there is no hope"

by "minor" power chords and b3 dyads i mean, for example, playing a 5 on the E string and a 3 on the A string. you'll get all kinds of mileage out of that

for more ambient black metal, you're gonna be more in the realm of post-rock/softer drone, basically just arpeggiating minor chords

also something to consider, you can totally make a black metal album without any guitars/drum/bass. it isn't very common, but electronic black metal is out there



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#3
Hail knows his Black Metal and is on point. I'd like to add stuff I've learned from research, listening and this forum. I've heard Black Metal tends to be relatively simple and steady in rhythm. A common technique is tremolo picking. Bass parts in Black Metal and Doom Metal tend to listen to the drums and mirror the guitar parts. Doom Metal and Black Metal (to a lesser extent) often have the snare doing a basic backbeat (played on 2nd and 4th beat in quarter note) but blast beats are also common in Black Metal. You may want to learn how to write basic metal songs and melodies first (melodies and basics can be adapted to different styles) ...

Drums in Black Metal are much trickier (kick and hats/cymbals tend to vary).

These are just things I've heard but I hope it helps. I only mentioned Doom Metal because Black Metal occasionally crosses over with it (like in DSBM) but partially because I have my notes on both styles lumped together ...
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
Last edited by RonaldPoe at May 15, 2017,
#4
Don't let people limit you to writing a certain type of black metal, first of all. Take what black metal is to you, and make it your own. Nobody likes repetition within genres, so making yourself stand out and sound different is essential. Do some research into some Romantic and Classical composition, and take notes on some of the progressions they use. I think it would be awesome if someone if someone used a I-iidim-5-IV-VI 6/4-I-IV. Or jazzy black metal. That would be the shit. Experiment.
#5
Quote by RonaldPoe
Hail knows his Black Metal and is on point. I'd like to add stuff I've learned from research, listening and this forum. I've heard Black Metal tends to be relatively simple and steady in rhythm. A common technique is tremolo picking. Bass parts in Black Metal and Doom Metal tend to listen to the drums and mirror the guitar parts. Doom Metal and Black Metal (to a lesser extent) often have the snare doing a basic backbeat (played on 2nd and 4th beat in quarter note) but blast beats are also common in Black Metal. You may want to learn how to write basic metal songs and melodies first (melodies and basics can be adapted to different styles) ...

Drums in Black Metal are much trickier (kick and hats/cymbals tend to vary).

These are just things I've heard but I hope it helps. I only mentioned Doom Metal because Black Metal occasionally crosses over with it (like in DSBM) but partially because I have my notes on both styles lumped together ...


something to consider is the history of black metal, which was basically in Euronymous's basement. typically it involved one guy playing all the parts, and typically they were someone with some chops on guitar and vocal ability, so when it came to drums/bass they kinda just winged it. this is why black metal characteristically tends to have very simple (or, for the bass, inaudible) rhythm sections

as poontoora said though, you can kinda do whatever you want. as far as i'm concerned, black metal is more of an attitude than a genre. it's important to know where the roots are and just listen to a lot of black metal (and music in general), but don't feel limited to the conventions. the people who would talk shit about not being metal/traditional/edgy enough aren't the kind of people you want to listen to anyway
Quote by Kevätuhri
Hail isn't too edgy for posts, posts are not edgy enough for Hail.


Quote by UseYourThumb
You win. I'm done here.
#6
First I've realized the key to Black Metal's "frost-bitten" attitude is bitterness and some agression. All the Black Metal bands (especially the Norwegian ones) and artists have this attitude as far as I know. It's hard to evoke without feeling this first (there's barely any advice I can provide with words). My post above was mainly general advice/guidelines. With a little imagination and some theory, the 4 chords of pop in major can fit Black Metal (you may want to do heavy modifying of the actual chords though).

Also Blast beats are common in Black Metal. I believe a blast beat is a beat that alternates kick and snare in 16th or sometimes 8th notes. It's not entirely essential but very common.

Second, I consider Robert Johnson to be Black Metal's ancestor. He's got many of the staples in his style even though his style is Delta Blues. He's got lyrics that are deep and sometimes Satanic, heavy guitar chops, bitterness, and lo-fi recording (he recorded his songs in the 1930s on a budget and sounds lower quality than freaking Burzum). Here's an example of his style.


You may want to write good melodies in 1/4, 1/2, or even whole notes and try tremolo picking them. Hail knows his stuff about this kind of stuff at least. Keep at it (maybe even post an exapmle) and good luck.
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
Last edited by RonaldPoe at May 18, 2017,
#7
Following RonaldPoe on a thought, early Blues records were considered hot finds in Europe in the late 70's and on into the 80's.  In fact, Americana in general was considered the buzz, which is why you see many of the prominent Psychobilly bands coming out of Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, etc.  In the early 80's these guys were playing / listening to speed metal and thrash metal.  Like most genres the music evolves in waves, and at a particular time becomes self-reflexive: no longer are the original influences/inspirations on the drawing table, but rather the community is upholding the previous wave as the standard to build on.  What ends up happening is what happened, a bunch of guys playing heavily distorted blues chords and minor jazz scales and not even realizing it.