Riff ov the Week: Atmosphere


W. the Great has determined that this week will be a battle of atmospherics in metal. “Atmosphere” means a great many things to different people. To some, it’s achieved with a thick, pervasive layer of synth. To others, it has to do with a song’s production. To others still, it’s about feels. To people with bad taste, it refers to some shitty hip hop band (I’ll fight all your burning butts at once). It’s a loose term, and W. didn’t specify. So anything goes, really.

I don’t like the term. It reminds me of dark times struggling to learn the water cycle in Kindergarten and Mrs. Bonnie saying, “Holy shit. It’s not that hard. There are like three steps. Why couldn’t Mr. Hill have gotten stuck with you? Why me? I always get the dumb ones. God help your parents. Fuck teaching. I quit.”

Last weekPoseur Disposeur took it home, with the intro to High on Fire‘s Snakes for the Divine getting way more votes than anything else. 16, to be exact.



Next week:

  • Joe has planned something a little special for you. He wants to see you push yourself and reach your full potential. Thus, your next riff must occur at 1:30 on the third track of a debut album. Have fun, dweebs.
  • Send your riff to toiletovhellriff@gmail.com. Include your handle, a link, and an explanation.
  • If you have an idea for a theme, let me know. If you can’t tell by now, it can pretty much be as fucking ridiculous as you want.



“The Passing of the Grey Company” starts with a simple dungeon synth march and builds slowly. Once the traipse of the drums and the trem-picking guitar kicks in at 1:00, I die, and my spirit is whisked away to the rolling hills of Tolkien’s high fantasy, where my shitty nerd soul belongs.


Joe Thrashnkill

I asked Dubya if the outro to “Floods” is more riff or more atmosphere. He decided atmosphere. I like the outro to “Floods”. I am not alone, apparently, because someone made a 2-hour-and-45-minute loop of it. Enjoy.



The atmospheric section that starts at 5:00 is the embodiment of all your hopes, dreams, and aspirations collapsing as the world around you burns to cinders.


Howard Dean

The best use of atmosphere to create a tone is Deathspell Omega‘s “First Prayer.” Hands down. But honestly, that is too obvious and fanboy of me and I wanted to be creative. Isn’t that what atmospheric music is all about — creativity? Creating an abstract,
multi-dimensional and pan-sensory experience within a limited auditory medium? So I present to you, dear Toileters: Alexander von Meilenwald’s masterful The Ruins of Beverast. Click play on that track below. It hits immediately. You probably have questions. What is going on? What language is that chanting? Is this music the work of a human? Will I be alive at the other end of this? I don’t have any answers for you, because I’m just as creeped out and disoriented as you are. This sounds like the soundtrack to ritual murder, and– quite perversely –I can’t seem to get enough of it. We all need help.


Maik Beninton

Atmospheric? Burzum comes to mind.


The Redman

I feel like this might be cheating because there is no actual riff in the song itself, but I chose “Frost” because the atmosphere not only sets the tone for the song after it, but for the whole goddamn album. Right from the very beginning, it will wrap you slowly and softly in its cold embrace while you prepare yourself from one of the coldest fucking albums you will ever hear. I feel that without the opening track of “Frost”, the whole album would not have the same impact on fresh ears listening for the first time.


Ron Deuce

It’s too bad Obituary never went back to using samples after World Demise. They were really onto something and seemed like they were going to evolve into something greater. The use of this Caribbean drum and flute loop coupled with their trademark riffing on “Kill For Me” is like adding your favorite beer to go with your favorite meal.


Ted Nü-Djent

The use of the keys to accentuate the riff at 0:23 and furthermore throughout the song give “Kriegsphilosophie” an epic feel that just gets me right there.


Hotdog Clifford

I don’t really care much for atmosphere in my metal, but I think this is what you are talking about. (I also want to keep up the Dissection praise that I have noticed in the last couple weeks) 3:44.


Celtic Frosty

Celtic Frosty bringing that hot atmospheric fire. Alaskan is an atmospheric sludge band from Ontario. “Fiend” from their debut LP Despair, Erosion, Loss starts off slow and moody, then the pace quickens as the introductory riff kicks in. At around 2:20, the riff changes as the vocals begin, and it’s one of the heaviest, handbangiest things I’ve ever heard from a band that deals in atmospherics. Check it.


Nordling Rites ov Karhu

10:21. The crushing chords. The ripping growls. The pounding drums. Straight from a ‘flute’-laden verse to haunting section crowned with layers of keys. Kill me. Kill me. Kill me now and make it slow.



When I think atmosphere, I think doom. This is my favorite doom album.  None of Celestial Season‘s other albums sound like this, but this album just has this very organic and stoner feel to it. No weird keyboard lines or anything, just lots of guitar layers and strings intertwining. Opening riff.



Starts at at 0:07 and runs for almost 2 minutes, a melancholic bass riff holds down this beautiful part as the guitar layers increasing amounts of layers of delay saturated parts above it.



I’m just guessing, but I reckon that a lot of the atmosphere of the music that will be submitted this week will be derived from synthetic sounding strings, horns and keys, along with a heavy dose of studio chicanery. The atmosphere from my submission is the real deal. Filmed live in one take at a dockyard in Helsinki, this stripped down version of the song is as bleak as it gets. The wind, the snow storm, the darkness, the simple and yet haunting melody, the glockenspiel and the vocals and lyrical content are all as real as it gets. If the hairs on your arms aren’t standing to attention after watching this performance, you’re frozen. Much like the guitarists’ fingers.



This whole fucking album, bitch!


Virgil the Ghost Poet

I have decided to participate in this thing. I love post atmospheric sludge and I almost went with The Atlas Moth, but we all listen to them so I chose A Storm of Light. The riff at 1 min and another at 6 mins. And yes, I will vote for myself. [Dork. — Masterlord]

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