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Contrary to what you might assume, black metal’s avantgarde is pretty easy to write about. The bigger idea, the more daring the creative choices, the easier it is to sink your teeth into a record. If it seems like critics ignore the workpail form of the genre for the more outlandish takes on the style, it’s not out of some kind of conspiracy to shove artsy stuff down people’s throats or to sound smart, it’s because writer’s tastes often shift towards things that make their brains fire up with new ideas.

So if you’re frustrated that some impenetrable mindfuck is getting attention instead of concise and accessible songwriting, I apologize. Writers write about shit that’s fun to write about, and sometimes trying to figure out how to describe the core essentials of good songwriting in a new way can make you want to tear your hair out. That doesn’t make those principles any less effective in practice. Catchy hooks and smart pacing can make anything palatable, even something as grim as suicide.

“Black Quiet Death” off of Gateway To Selfdestruction’s upcoming album Death, My Salvation is proof that you can make even the gravest of subject matter engaging if you’ve got a good ear for melody. In case the band name/album name/song name combo didn’t tip you off, we’re dealing with some especially “no smiling allowed” shit here. But if you were to conduct a Pepsi taste test, I doubt the results would lead you to believe this track is anything nearly as dour as its author intended. The minor key moodiness and ominous reverb might tip you off that Gateway To Selfdestruction aren’t exactly going for bubblegum, but the song’s precise economy makes it far more engaging than your standard depressive black metal track.

Notice how the song’s hooky intro crops up three times, each time with a specific function. The first time it establishes the song’s central riff, one that’s simple but sneakily catch. The second time is a fake out. Instead of launching back into that main riff, the song pivots and blows out the counter melody into a full on bridge. The third and final time is simply a matter of closing up loose ends, giving the song balance and symmetry. Everything about the song is built from this central melodic idea, even the song’s chorus, which relegates the melody the background while moving through a dynamic range of chords. In lesser hands this would feel repetitive or lazy, but each choice here feels considered and deliberate. It all stems from a simple and effective melodic idea, an excellent example of working smart vs working hard.

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Death, My Salvation will be released on November 11 via Northern Silence Productions. Pre order it here. Follow Gateway to Selfdestruction on Facebook.

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